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Trio admit possession of mustard gas at old RAF base

UK News | Published:

The highly noxious substance was found in Lincolnshire woodland.

From left, Stuart Holmes, Michaela Tasker and Martyn Tasker

Three people have admitted possessing the chemical weapon mustard gas at a former RAF based used in the Second World War.

Martyn Tasker, 39, Michaela Tasker, 31, and Stuart Holmes, 50, were arrested after containers filled with the highly noxious substance were discovered in Lincolnshire woodland in October 2017.

At Lincoln Crown Court on Thursday, the trio all admitted possession of mustard gas canisters and discharging mustard gas into fresh inland waters.

Mustard gas found
Royal Navy Bomb disposal unit members working at Stixwould Lake (Royal Navy/PA)

Holmes also pleaded guilty to depositing mustard gas in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

Police declared a major incident after the canisters were discovered on the former RAF Woodhall Spa site at Roughton Woods.

Bomb disposal officers had to be called in and further testing was carried out on the substance at the Government’s specialist Porton Down military research laboratory in Wiltshire.

Mustard gas court case
First World War mustard gas bombs were recovered by divers from the bottom of Stixwould Lake near Woodhall Spa (Royal Navy/PA)

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Two people who found the canisters needed hospital treatment for burns and respiratory problems, but were released after treatment.

The highly dangerous gas, a chemical warfare agent, causes severe irritation to the skin, eyes, and lungs of those exposed, and was used during the First World War.

Mustard gas found
Divers undergoing decontamination during the operation (Royal Navy/PA)

Michaela Tasker, who was tearful throughout the hearing, alongside Martyn Tasker and Holmes, spoke to confirm their name, date of birth and their pleas.

The Taskers, both of Longdales Road, Lincoln, and Holmes, of Witham Road, Woodhall Spa, were granted unconditional bail and will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

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