AN amateur scientist with a keen interest in fireworks sparked a bomb alert after setting off a squib in the street.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard how Alan Hamilton’s antics led to police having to destroy explosive substances and another DIY firework he had stashed in his home.

The details emerged this week when 36-year-old Hamilton appeared in the dock to face two charges – endangering lives by causing an explosion and being in possession of a number of explosive substances at his former home in Well Street, Paisley.

Hamilton, who now lives in Johnstone, admitted breaking the Explosive Substances Act 1883 by making or knowingly being in possession or control of “an explosive substance, namely potassium nitrate, sulphur, aluminium and a starch based material.”

A second charge that he “did unlawfully and maliciously cause by an explosive substance, an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property” by igniting “a cylinder device containing explosive material and did cause it to explode” was dropped by prosecutors.

Procurator fiscal depute David McDonald said Hamilton came to the attention of police after setting off one of his home-made fireworks in Clavering Street East, Paisley, on June 9 last year.

Officers asked Hamilton if he had any other explosives with him and he said he did not – but had potassium nitrate, aluminium powder, charcoal and another home-made firework in his own home a short distance away.

A search of the flat revealed a glass jar with a clasped lid containing potassium nitrate, a similar jar containing sulphur, a small bag containing ball bearings and tubs containing aluminium powder and other chemicals.

Mr McDonald explained: “Sulphur is a fuel which can be used in conjunction with an oxidiser such as potassium nitrate to produce a low explosive composition.

“Low explosive compositions will burn rapidly when ignited and, if suitably confined, can be made to explode.

“Commercially produced low explosive compositions such as flash powder and black powder are commonly used in fireworks.”

A jar containing the low explosive and a home-made banger were taken to a suitable area and destroyed by a controlled explosion.

As he called for background reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing and adjourned the case until next month for that to be done, Sheriff Colin Pettigrew told Hamilton he could be jailed for life for the offence.

He added: “That is how serious it is.”