Doomsday “Prepper” turned his house into a “bomb factory”

Bomb disposal officers at an address in Derby (Image: BPM Media)

A self-proclaimed doomsday “prepper” turned his home into an explosives factory and set off dozens of devices in the garden, a court has been told.

Simon Pilgrim, 41, from Derby, was arrested last December when police searched his apartment building accommodation.

Officers discovered 13 operable improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in his room and the burned remains of 40 others in the back garden on King Alfred Street, the Old Bailey heard.

Prior to a search, Pilgrim was asked if he had anything dangerous on him. He told officers, “There is an ottoman in my room. Inside is a shoebox and inside are little firecrackers. They only make noise.’

But prosecutor Emma Gargitter suggested Pilgrim had turned his room into a “storage room and workshop for making explosive devices”.

Items confiscated included cut tubing and end caps, resin kits and molds for making knife blades and brass knuckles, a bag of black clothing, a lock pick kit, as well as elbow and knee pads, IED cases, body armor and a notebook of explosives recipes.

The court said that a total of around 307 g of the homemade explosives and the chemical starting materials had to be produced.

Pilgrim reportedly began buying explosives-related items in bulk on eBay and Amazon last August.

An examination of his phone allegedly uncovered three video clips of the defendant detonating IEDs of progressively larger and more powerful detonations in his garden last fall.


Police at the scene (Image: BPM Media)

Pilgrim showed an interest in “survival and self-defense” by purchasing a volume of 100 Deadly Skills: A Navy Seal’s Guide To Crushing Your Enemy, it said.

He was also considering buying another book, How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It: From Financial Crisis To Flu Epidemic, jurors heard.

Just before the police raid, Pilgrim allegedly searched Google and YouTube for ways to make things like a flamethrower, a 3D-printed gun, and a sodium bomb.

Ms Gargitter said possession of the books 100 Deadly Skills, FM 5-31 Boobytrap and The Anarchist Cookbook was “of particular concern” and the subject of three charges against him.

After his arrest, Pilgrim said he planned to start a pyrotechnics company.

He told police: “When I make explosive compounds… I make small batches. I don’t want to make big money because it will get me in trouble.’

In an interview with officers, Pilgrim spoke of being a “prepper” – someone who prepares for an upcoming war or disaster.

When asked by officials why a “prepper” needs to have IEDs, he replied, “Oh, no. This is something else.”

Pilgrim said the devices were an improvement over firecrackers to make them safer and he never intended to harm anyone.

He said he bought a paintball stab vest and took an archery class to get more practice.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (10625602b) Old Bailey GV General View, The Central Criminal Court, London, UK The Old Bailey, Central Criminal Court, London, UK - 26 April 2020

Pilgrim stands trial at the Old Bailey (Image: Rex/Shutterstock)

But Ms Gargitter said: “At the heart of this case lies his interest in explosives and explosive devices.

“Evidence is presented that this interest was unregulated, dangerous and without a legitimate purpose.

“Although the Crown was unwilling to prove that Mr Pilgrim intended to use these documents and explosives to cause injury or damage to property, his activities carried a significant risk that such damage could be caused, albeit accidentally. “

She said while Pilgrim may have been interested in fireworks, the evidence showed he became “fascinated by guns, self-defense and survival” in late 2021.

“Boredom, curiosity, and a desire to just experiment” drove Pilgrim to take even greater risks, she suggested.

Pilgrim denies three allegations of possession of an explosive substance involving black powder, “rocket candy” and pyrotechnic detonators.

He also denies possession of a document for terrorism purposes on three occasions.

The process goes on.

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Justin Scacco

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