Castlemaine bomb accused didn’t have ‘sinister intentions’

A CASTLEMAINE man has pleaded guilty to charges of possessing explosive substances and military grade body armour, saying they were to protect him from the threat of a biohazard attack.

Phillip John Marsh, 37, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo County Court yesterday over possession of chemicals and powders, including charcoal, potassium nitrate and sulphur.

Marsh also pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a Kevlar helmet, army ballistic vest, army helmet and capsicum spray.

In statements heard by the court, Marsh said he planned to use the chemicals to produce firecrackers and was not intending to blow anything up.

He said the armour and helmets were purchased because he was worried “there are a lot of idiots around” and wanted to defend himself and his wife.

A police seized enough chemicals to make five kilograms of explosives, as well as other military paraphernalia and a dagger in araid on Marsh’s home in July last year. The targeted investigation was prompted by information from the Australian Federal Police relating to suspicious explosive materials purchased through Marsh’s eBay account. 

Over a period of 12 months, Marsh stockpiled a collection of detonator cords, charcoal powder and other explosive substances in various parts of his Castlemaine property.

His defence lawyer, Sam Naughton, said his client was naive in the way he had ordered the explosives online but he did not have sinister intentions.

“He is a person who has a quirky fascination with explosives but does not have the concerning psychological makeup of someone who’s going to use it for harm,” he said.

Mr Naughton argued Marsh was in possession of the items for self defence and his purchase of protective armour was explained by his hyper vigilance.

He said Marsh had shown genuine remorse for his actions.

Marsh is facing charges of possessing explosives, theft of an explosive gel substance as well as charges of unlawfully possessing dangerous weapons.

The sentencing has been adjourned until September 21.

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