Belfast Telegraph

'This wasn't Breaking Bad' - man left disfigured after Belfast drugs factory blast, court hears

The scene of the explosion at a house on Bloomfield Road on May 15
The scene of the explosion at a house on Bloomfield Road on May 15

By Alan Erwin

A man burnt and disfigured by an explosion at his east Belfast home was attempting a chemical process to obtain a more potent form of cannabis, the High Court has heard.

David Osbourne, 31, is accused of growing 30 plants allegedly found at the Bloomfield Road property along with guns, knives and a crossbow.

During a bail application the judge was told a front window on the terraced house was completely blown out by the blast on May 15.

Defence counsel claimed Osbourne had been using butane gas in a bid to extract concentrated cannabis oil.

In a reference to the hit television crime drama, Mark Farrell insisted: "This is not a Breaking Bad-type scenario.

"The applicant hadn't a clue what he was doing and the whole thing backfired on him.

"It's a mark of how amateurish and stupid his behaviour was that he ended up with second degree burns on both arms... and third degree burns to his face."

Osbourne is charged with cultivating and possessing cannabis with intent to supply, as well as having a quantity of MDMA with intent to supply.

He faces another five counts of possessing a firearm or imitation firearm, and a further allegation of having a prohibited weapon.

Prosecutor Iryna Kennedy claimed police called to the scene of the explosion found evidence of a drugs-production factory.

She said a 9mm pistol wrapped in packaging was discovered in a freezer, while two BB-type guns, an air rifle, starter pistol and Taser were also located.

Opposing bail, Mrs Kennedy contended: "It was an extremely reckless act, whether he was trying to cut drugs or whatever, it could have had fatal consequences."

Osbourne's legal team argued that the alleged weapons consisted of imitation and airsoft guns designed to fire target practice pellets.

During exchanges Mr Justice McAlinden described the accused's mental health problems, alleged drugs activity and apparent fixation with weaponry as "an explosive mixture, literally and metaphorically".

He said: "It looks as if he was intent on defending his little factory. This is a genuinely worrying case."

Accepting that his client's alleged behaviour "looks awful", Mr Farrell insisted Osbourne has no links to any paramilitaries or organised crime.

"He seems to be a one-man band and not very good at that, given what happened to him," the barrister continued.

"He may be scarred now significantly on both his arms and his face is very disfigured."

Counsel submitted that his client could be released to live with a sister in Comber, Co Down.

But Mr Justice McAlinden responded: "So the good people of Comber can be blown up the next time he mixes the wrong mixture?"

Adjourning the bail application, he requested an expert opinion on whether Osbourne's underlying conditions can be dealt with outside custody.

The judge explained: "Without some form of medical evidence to indicate the risks could be managed in the community I cannot take that risk."

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