John Bevan, for the prosecution, said there had been one case of a similar booby trap at Crossmaglen, south Armagh, in May 1992; otherwise such a device was unknown.
He was attempting to establish links between the 1.6-tonne home-made fertiliser bomb in a blue Transit van, which failed to explode in November 1992, and one of two defendants charged with 11 offences in connection with a four-month IRA bombing campaign in London which ended with their arrest in March 1993.
He said a similar booby-trapped timing device had been found at the flat in north London where the two were arrested.
Patrick Hayes, 41, and Jan Taylor, 51, a former soldier in the British Army, were found at Mr Hayes's flat in Stoke Newington, allegedly surrounded by guns and bomb-making equipment. Mr Hayes is accused of conspiracy to cause explosions at Canary Wharf, Tottenham Court Road and Woodside Park Tube station car park in north London. With Mr Taylor, of Stepney, east London, he is also accused of conspiracy to cause explosions, of causing an explosion at Harrods and another on the 9.05am Victoria to Ramsgate train, and with possessing Semtex and ammonium nitrate explosives.
They also face charges of possessing two pistols and assault rifles. They have denied all 11 charges, which the prosecution has said were part of an IRA bombing campaign.
Alleging a further link between Mr Hayes and the Canary Wharf bomb, Mr Bevan described how a piece of green tissue paper had been found in the Transit van. Somebody had used it to blow his nose. Forensic scientists had compared the DNA code with a sample of Mr Hayes's hair, had found a close match, and concluded there was only a small chance that the match was random.
Two men - whose descriptions differed from the defendants' - had been seen driving away from Canary Wharf in a yellow Escort van. This van, containing another bomb, which also failed to explode, was later found abandoned near Bethnal Green Tube station, east London. It contained another booby-trapped timing device, and a spent bullet which matched a pistol found at Mr Hayes's flat.
Mr Bevan moved next to another bomb left in another Transit van in Tottenham Court Road at 7pm on 1 December 1992, after a vague warning which gave the IRA code.
The area was still busy with pedestrians when a policeman heard a small explosion, which was later found to have been a detonator going off, but failing to trigger the 1.45 tonnes of home-made explosives.
Mr Bevan said: 'Experts have estimated that anybody within 200 metres would have been killed or maimed.'
He said keys to this van, and an anti-theft lock on its steering wheel, were found in Mr Hayes's flat. Scientific examination showed that angle iron fixed to the van doors had been cut from a piece found in a garage rented by Mr Hayes.
Mr Bevan said Mr Hayes was linked to another bomb in a van which partially exploded outside Woodside Park Tube station on 9 December 1992. Keys to the van and its spare tyre were found in Mr Hayes's flat and garage.
The case continues on Monday.Reuse content