Two years' jail for student who set off explosives at Newcastle University

Vladimir Aust, 19, bought a bomb-making kit for £22 from Amazon

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The Independent Online

A Russian student who created and then set off explosives in full view of security cameras at a university halls of residence has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Vladimir Aust, 19, who was studying a foundation course at Newcastle University, bought a bomb-making kit for £22 from shopping website Amazon, and mixed the chemicals in his bedroom and communal areas of the halls.

Newcastle Crown Court also heard Aust boasted of using peroxide to “lighten n******”. Referring to Aust’s racist language on the Russian equivalent of Facebook, Mr Justice Coulson noted the teenager “spoke eloquently of his unsophisticated world view” but added that there was no evidence of him intending to attack any group.

Aust created a volatile explosive called HMTD – known as terrorists’ “explosive of choice” – and managed to cause small explosions on at least four occasions, but he managed to convince university staff he had been lighting matches.

In June, the halls of residence had to be evacuated following an incident. On at least one occasion Aust caused a fire alarm to go off, and the court heard that he mixed chemicals in communal areas while reading from his laptop – on some occasions in full view of the university’s security cameras. He was caught after staff found a table embedded with knives in his room and then discovered dangerous chemicals, switches, crocodile clips, bulbs and a battery which could be used to make a detonator. The army were called in and a controlled explosion took place.

Police found he had watched videos on how to make HMTD, and accessed a website called the Anarchist’s Cookbook.

Richard Horwell QC, defending, claimed Aust was popular and not a loner, and that he had an interest in pyrotechnics but was not obsessed with explosions. He added that the racist language was in reference to a film called Iron Sky, and it had “nothing whatsoever to do with this case”.