An expert who examined the devices placed in Gray’s Inn as a result of a businessman’s alleged ‘deep seated grudge’ against a barrister today told the court she considered one of the devices viable.

Julia Mills gave evidence at the 12-week trial at the Old Bailey over an alleged conspiracy to place devices designed to resemble explosives at Gray’s Inn on 14 September 2021. Discovery of the devices led to police being called, building evacuations and road closures.

The alleged target, barrister Andrew Sutcliffe KC, had been instructed by the National Crime Agency in proceedings relating to an investigation into Jonathan Nuttall, his wife and others. An order was made for the recovery of £1m of assets from Nuttall’s wife.

Michael Broddle, 46, of Hounslow, London, accepted he had placed the devices. Nuttall, 50, of Romsey, Hants, along with co-defendants Joshua Broddle, 20, Charlie Broddle, 18, both of Hounslow, London, Michael Sode, 58, of Lewisham, London, and George Gray, 25, of Wembley, London all deny being involved.

Mills, a chartered chemist, examined both devices and considered one to be not viable while the other was considered ‘still viable’.

When asked by Catherine Farrelly, prosecuting, if device 1 with ‘the smoke grenade would be considered an explosive substance’, Mills said: ‘It would yes.’

She told the court: ‘[Device 1] could have an appearance to someone that they look like an IED…[but] it did not form a viable explosive device.’

Device 2, which she did consider viable, had a vibrating component whose function, Mills told the court, ‘was not immediately clear'. However she said it could have caused 'throwdowns', or snaps - novelty firework devices - to be set off. 

In her evidence Mills said it was possible the smoke grenade in device 2 could generate enough heat to set off other components that made up the device. Mills said: ‘I am not saying it definitely would, but I am saying it would be possible to generate sufficient heat to detonate the thunderflash [contained within the envelope].’

Nuttall, Michael Sode (Nutall’s driver and an associate of Michael Broddle) and Broddle’s sons Charlie and Joshua are accused of being involved in the ‘criminal plan’. All four deny all allegations.

Nuttall, Sode, and Charlie and Joshua Broddle are charged with conspiracy to place an article with the intention of inducing in another a belief that the said article was likely to explode or ignite and thereby cause personal injury or damage to property; and conspiracy to transfer criminal property.

Nuttall and Sode are also charged with failing to comply with a notice when they knowingly failed to disclose the PIN or passcode to a digital storage device.

Charlie Broddle is also charged with possessing an explosive substance.

The trial continues.