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Man charged with possession of machine gun at former World War Two RAF base

UK News | Published:

Martyn Tasker, Michaela Tasker and Stuart Holmes have been charged with possession of mustard gas canisters.

Mustard gas found

A man has been summonsed to court charged with possessing a machine gun and mustard gas at a former Second World War RAF base.

Martyn Tasker and co-accused Michaela Tasker and Stuart Holmes were arrested in connection with the discovery of containers filled with the highly noxious substance in Lincolnshire woodland in October 2017.

Lincolnshire Police said Tasker, 39, has been charged with having a working Bren machine gun, possession of mustard gas canisters, and discharging mustard gas into fresh inland waters.

Mustard gas found
Divers undergoing decontamination during the operation where they discovered the First World War mustard gas bombs at the bottom of Stixwould Lake near the village of Woodhall Spa, Lincoln (Royal Navy/PA)

Michaela Tasker, 31, was charged with possession of mustard gas canisters and discharging mustard gas into fresh inland waters.

Holmes, 50, was also charged with having mustard gas canisters, depositing mustard gas in Roughton Woods, Lincolnshire, depositing mustard gas in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health, and discharging mustard gas into fresh inland waters.

The force said the charges had been brought jointly by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Environment Agency.

Mustard gas found
A Royal Navy Bomb disposal unit at Stixwould Lake near the village of Woodhall Spa, Lincoln as divers have recovered ten First World War mustard gas bombs from the bottom of the lake (Royal Navy/PA)

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Police declared a “major incident” after the canisters were first discovered on the former air force base at Roughton Woods, near Woodhall Spa.

Army bomb squad 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.

Two people who found the canisters needed hospital treatment for burns and respiratory problems, but were able to go home shortly after.

Mustard gas found
One of shells for the First World War mustard gas bombs that were recovered by divers from the bottom of Stixwould Lake near the village of Woodhall Spa, Lincoln (Royal Navy/PA)

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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.

The military shut down RAF Woodhall Spa – which had been a satellite of the main RAF Coningsby site – in the mid 1960s.

Martyn Tasker and Michaela Tasker, both of Longdales Road, Lincoln, and Holmes, of Witham Road, Woodhall Spa, will appear at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on August 15.

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