Explosive devices found in Bendigo CBD

UPDATE 7.15pm: Arson and Explosive Squad detectives have charged a 24-year-old Maiden Gully man with serious offences following incidents over night in Bendigo where it is alleged home made explosive devices were located. 

Three devices were allegedly located as follows: 

The first two were located exploded, one at the intersection of Myrtle and King Street and the second outside the library in Hargreaves Street. 

The third device was located intact in Chancery Lane. 

A 24-year-old male from Maiden Gully has been charged with eight offences including reckless conduct endangering life, manufacture explosive substance, criminal damage and cause explosion likely to endanger life. 

He has been bailed to appear at Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on 23 December.

UPDATE 4.45pm: Arson and Explosive Squad detectives are in the process of interviewing a man in Bendigo following incidents overnight where it is alleged home made explosive devices were located.

A 24-year-old male from Maiden Gully handed himself into the police station around 3.30pm. He is currently assisting police with enquiries.

Three devices were located as follows: 

The first two were located exploded, one at the intersection of Myrtle and King Street and the second outside the library in Hargreaves Street. 

The third device was located intact in Chancery Lane. 

UPDATE 2.55pm: Hargreaves Street is now open.

UPDATE 12.45pm: Golden Vine Hotel co-owner Liz Wright said she and patrons heard an explosion near the hotel about 6.15pm on Saturday.

She said the explosion didn't happen at the hotel but somewhere near Myrtle Street.

She said it sounded like a gas bottle exploding.

"We went out the front of the pub and there was smoke coming up Myrtle Street," she said.

"What was going on heaven only knows.

"We just went out to check everyone was alright. Everyone seemed to be okay, so we came back in and continued on the service."

She said police visited the hotel about 7pm, but didn't seem to find any devices.

When she arrived at the hotel on Sunday morning, it was cordoned off and considered a crime scene.

"It's the busiest time of the year, it's detrimental to our business to have something like this happen," she said.

"It didn't happen in the pub and everybody was safe."

UPDATE 12.27pm: A man working in Bull Street last night said he spoke to a man claiming his friend was behind the explosives in the Bendigo CBD.

The worker, who did not wish to be named, said "a fellow chatting to us said his friend had five to six pipe bombs in a plastic bag and he had just set one off near (Bar) 238".

"He told us that the guy destroyed a letter box near the Golden Vine hotel," the worker said, adding he was told the Santa was part of a pub crawl.

The worker has told police his account of the conversation.

UPDATE 12.20pm: Detective Sergeant Rainey has just held a press conference about the incident.

He said there were two explosions, with the first happening at a different location - believed to be the Golden Vine Hotel - at 10pm, before the rubbish bin explosion in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He said police had had many witnesses contact them and were interested in speaking to a group of young people dressed as Santa.

"This is just stupidity at its best, particularly in the current climate with events around the country," he said.

"It's nothing short of moronic to come out the weekend before Christmas with any type of explosive device and think detonating that is fun.

"It could have had catastrophic effects for someone over the Christmas period."

He said police were confident the explosions were "moronic" pranks and not acts of terrorism.

“We think it’s a very long bow to draw any kind of terrorism aspect from what we’ve found today … the device, construction, what it is an how it’s done appears to be more stupidity than some intent purpose," he said.

He said police were "extremely confident" they would catch the perpetrators, and would examine CCTV footage to assist their investigations.

A crime scene has been set up at the Golden Vine Hotel in King Street, Bendigo.

A crime scene has been set up at the Golden Vine Hotel in King Street, Bendigo.

UPDATE 11.43am: A crime scene has been set up at the Golden Vine Hotel in King Street, Bendigo.

Police have confirmed it is related to the two explosive devices found in Hargreaves Street.

UPDATE 11.25am: Police will brief the media at 11.45am.

UPDATE 10.50am: Arson experts are on scene investigating. 

They have examined the bin and the container that stored the second device.

An investigator is taking notes.

UPDATE 10.30am: Bendigo Original Pie Shop manager Katie McKee said reports of the explosive devices had shaken her.

"It's too much to think about," she said.

"I feel a bit worried, with all the things going on in the media at the moment.

"Bendigo is such a small town - you never think it would happen here."

She said the business had been quiet at the start of the morning but many people were coming into the store now to have a coffee and inquire about what was going on.

"Everyone's checking it out and getting coffees," she said.

UPDATE 10.25am: Bendigo residents have reported hearing a loud exploding noise last night, which police have confirmed was likely the rubbish bin exploding.

Raine Collihole-Isaacs said "I heard an almighty (explosion) noise! About 10ish" while Ez Holding said "We heard the explosion about 9.30pm, give or take, from View St."

A 'guest' commented: "My son was being picked up from work around 9.30 last night in the CBD when he heard what sounded like an explosion which shook the ground. It sounds like one did go off."

UPDATE 10am: Sergeant Rainey said an explosion heard in the CBD about 10pm last night was the rubbish bin exploding.

UPDATE 9.30am: Sim'r employee Maddi Camilleri said the incident had affected the business.

Sim'r employees Maddi Camelliri and Simons Blackmore (owner, right) Picture: LIZ FLEMING

Sim'r employees Maddi Camelliri and Simons Blackmore (owner, right) Picture: LIZ FLEMING

She said the cafe was usually full at this time on a Sunday but was much quieter.

"A lot of people are put off by the police tape," she said.

She said the cafe normally opened at 8am on Sundays but opened half an hour later today.

She said the incident was scary to think about.

"If they hadn't found it and I came to work...It puts everything in perspective," she said.

"It's scary because it's Bendigo, it's a small town and you don't expect it."

UPDATE 9.20am: Residents on either side of the scene are going about their morning as usual. 

Sim'r cafe is busy with breakfast diners.

The Reject Shop employees Lauren Warhaurst and Stephen Fleming are sitting on a bench near the town hall, unable to go into their workplace, which is cordoned off.

They said they have been there since 8am and were "waiting to see what happens".

They said they were a bit scared about returning to work, given the close proximity of the devices.

UPDATE 9.04am: Sergeant Rainey said the devices were discovered between 3am and 4am today.

He said it was lucky no one was hurt by the devices.

If someone had been standing next to the rubbish bin when it exploded they could have suffered significant injuries, Sergeant Rainey said, and there was "no knowing" how much damage the pipe bomb might have caused.

He said the bomb disposal unit worked on the second device at 6am, using robots to empty the device of unknown powder, which will be tested by arson chemist experts that are on the way to Bendigo from Melbourne.

He said the devices were certainly homemade.

"These are fairly simple devices - someone has certainly made them at home," he said.

Police would continue to lock down the area, he said, and arson experts would examine both devices upon arrival. 

UPDATE 8.45am: Two homemade explosive devices have been found in Hargreaves Street, Bendigo, overnight police say.

One detonated and set fire to a rubbish bin near the Bendigo Library.

The other, described by police as a modified pipe bomb, was found in a container in Chancery Lane.

Police prevented it from exploding by using robots to safely deactivate the device.

No one has been hurt.

Sergeant Steve Rainey said it was too early to speculate why the devices were planted in the Bendigo CBD.

EARLIER: POLICE have cordoned off part of Hargreaves Street, in the Bendigo CBD.

The street is blocked from Williamson Street to Bull Street. 

More to come.


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