Damien Manly caused fear with his soda ‘bombs’.
Damien Manly caused fear with his soda ‘bombs’.

Soda ‘bomber’ sentenced after causing neighbourhood fear

HE gave no reason for his deeds but Damien Manly caused fear among his Ipswich neighbours when he threw soda bottle bombs into their yards and onto roofs.

Then when the dad of seven moved to another suburb the homemade devices were set off there. However, police were swift to act and he was arrested and charged.

When he went before Ipswich District Court for sentence the Crown prosecution withdrew 14 charges from the original indictment of 23 charges.

Manly pleaded guilty to the nine remaining charges on a new indictment.

The Crown prosecutor told the court that some residents felt terrified by the incidents, even considering moving their families when the explosive devices being found over six months.

Damien Paul Manly, 38, now living in Gatton, pleaded guilty to nine charges that he wilfully deposited an explosive substance into yards in circumstances that could cause damage to property or injury. One charge relates to a public footpath.

Seven charges relate to the explosive substances being thrown into yards of houses at Redbank Plains on December 10, 2017; February 23, 2018; March 4, 2018; April 1, 2018; April 7, 2018; April 12, 2018; and April 13, 2018.

Two charges relate to incidents in Springfield Lakes - thrown into a yard on May 19, 2018; and an explosive substance thrown onto a footpath on June 8, 2018.

Crown prosecutor Cameron Wilkins said Manly had spent four months held in jail until getting bail.

The case was listed for trial last year and following negotiations with defence legal representatives had proceeded to sentence.

Mr Wilkins said Manly had been living in Redbank Plains during 2017 and 2018 when explosive devices began landing in yards of nearby houses or onto streets.

He said they were either thrown or launched from his backyard late at night or early morning.

"His conduct was one of reckless indifference," Mr Wilkins said.

"There is still no explanation as to why he was doing these things. It terrified some people.

"The terrorism incidents went on for a number of months."

Worried residents struggled to sleep and felt fear that they, their children or pets could be injured.

Mr Wilkins said investigating police officers began a targeted doorknock around Redbank Plains and soon after Manly and his family moved out to Springfield Lakes.

He said the explosive devices contained sulphuric acid utilising substances such as bleach and brake fluid.

Mixed together and with rolled-up aluminium it reacted and exploded.

The reacting acid caused grass to burn but would not have caused houses to go up in flames. Although they could have caused injury if someone had been close to the explosion.

At least one landed on a roof.

Mr Wilkins said it had no sinister undertones and was not like an unrelated case at a Redbank shopping centre where an explosive device held schrapnel with ball bearings and nails.

CCTV footage in one incident at Springfield Lakes shows Manly driving in a car and throwing a device onto a footpath.

Scorch marks were also found in his former backyard at Redbank Plains and rolled up aluminium had his fingerprints.

"He was no way qualified in the production and handling of these rudimentary explosives," Mr Wilkins said.

The Crown sought a jail sentence of two years, to be suspended.

And because he had not reoffended while on bail in the 2 ½ years since being charged no further jail time was required.

Defence barrister Malcolm Harrison said he did not disagree with the prosecution's written submission.

He said the incidents began after a close friend of Manly took his own life.

Manly resigned his job and been using illicit drugs.

"It was truly bizarre. It (friend's death) does not excuse what he did," Mr Harrison said.

"The level of immaturity displayed here is gobsmacking."

Mr Harrison said the incident caught on CCTV shows the device he threw onto a footpath at 9.50am exploded after he drove past.

"There was no purpose to it. Utterly bizarre," Mr Harrison said.

Mr Harrison outlined the steady family life Manly who was born in Toowoomba now led at Gatton with very good employment in a responsible position. He and his partner was raising seven children.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC said the original indictment had been reduced from 23 to 14 charges.

He said that although a man of mature age what he did did not show maturity by making crude explosive devices from drink bottles that when substances were mixed produced hydrochloric acid that would detonate after being thrown.

His targets were random and the devices held no shrapnel.

"Residents of Redbank Plains felt terrorised by your actions. Bizarre accurately describes your behaviour," Judge Horneman-Wren said.

"Others must be made aware that this is not a bit of fun. It is serious criminal conduct."

Manly was convicted and received a two-year jail order. With four months already served the sentence was suspended for two years.