Woodhall Spa

Three plead guilty after Woodhall Spa mustard gas probe

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Three people have pleaded guilty after a major mustard gas incident forced police to seal off a Lincolnshire wood.

The charge relates to dates between September 27 and October 1, 2017.

The three also admitted breaching environmental protection laws by causing the discharge of mustard gas into Stixwould Lake near Woodhall Spa, on September 30, 2017.

The charges follow the discovery of 150 mustard gas canisters on the site of a former military base at Roughton Woods, near Woodhall Spa, which led police to declare a major incident.

Stuart Holmes, 50, of Witham Road, Woodhall Spa.

Specialists from Porton Down were brought in by the Ministry of Defence and the area was sealed off for a fortnight. The subsequent clean-up operation cost almost £300,000 to carry out.

The canisters are believed to have been unearthed by bottle diggers searching the woods for vintage bottles. Two people were later treated in hospital for minor burns.

Martyn Tasker, 40, his wife Michaela Tasker, 31, both of Longdales Road, Lincoln, and Stuart Holmes, 50, of Witham Road, Woodhall Spa, each entered guilty pleas to both charges when they appeared before Lincoln Crown Court this afternoon.

Martyn Tasker, 40, his wife Michaela Tasker, 31, both of Longdales Road, Lincoln.

Holmes also admitted disposing of mustard gas in a manner likely to cause pollution to the environment or harm to public health between September 28 and October 1, 2017.

Martyn Tasker denied two charges of possession of a Bren light machine gun and a further charge of possession of 10 rounds of ammunition without a firearms certificate on October 4, 2017. He is to face trial on those charges on March 3 next year.

Judge John Pini QC ordered pre-sentence reports to be prepared on Michaela Tasker and Stuart Holmes.

They will be sentenced along with Martyn Tasker following the conclusion of Martyn Tasker’s trial for the firearms offences.

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