AN AMATEUR scientist from Johnstone who was told he could be jailed for life for making his own explosives has been spared prison – after a sheriff was told he has taken up crochet instead.

Alan Hamilton was charged with endangering lives by setting off a home-made firework, leading to police having to evacuate homes.

He was also charged with destroying explosive substances and another DIY firework he had stashed in his home.

The 36-year-old came to the attention of police officers after setting off one of his homemade fireworks in Clavering Street East, Paisley, on June 9 last year.

Hamilton set the firework off during a visit to see his brother, resulting in neighbours hearing a very loud explosion outside and seeing the brothers running back in to the common close while the firework was smouldering on the public footpath.

Last month, at Paisley Sheriff Court, he 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” was dropped.

Sentence was deferred for background reports to be prepared, with Sheriff Colin Pettigrew warning him the charge he had pleaded guilty to carried a maximum jail term of life imprisonment.

When Hamilton returned to the dock on Monday to learn his fate, defence solicitor Paul Lynch said his client was a “naive” and “socially isolated” individual who had an “obsession” with making his own fireworks.

He added: “He has replaced his interest in making his own fireworks with another hobby - and that’s crochet.”

Sheriff Pettigrew said he accepted the offence was committed due to a lack of “emotional maturity rather than by any malice.”

Instead Hamilton will be supervised by social workers until November 2019, and must do 255 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.