Ex-teacher faces terror charges for 'putting fake Novichok bottles' in Pembroke Castle

24 July 2020, 18:28

Pembroke Castle had to be evacuated following the discovery
Pembroke Castle had to be evacuated following the discovery. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

A former teacher is facing terrorism charges for allegedly placing bottles labelled "Novichok" at a Welsh castle in the wake of the Salisbury poisonings.

John Ap Evans, 66, from Pembroke, is accused of putting bottles of a hoax noxious substance in Wogan's Cavern at Pembroke Castle on five separate occasions in July 2018.

Two of the bottles were labelled Novichok, the lethal nerve agent Russian spies used to poison ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March the same year. 

The discovery, in a public area of the castle, caused the site to be evacuated. 

Ap Evans, who is representing himself, appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday via videolink from Swansea Crown Court for a preliminary hearing.

He faces five counts of a hoax involving a noxious substance under section 114 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. He denied the charges at an earlier hearing.

Warned he faces a maximum prison term of seven years and may wish to seek legal representation, he told Mr Justice Sweeney: "I'm prepared to go to court and meet my fellow citizens and explain the whole thing."

Ap Evans was granted unconditional bail ahead of a plea and trial preparation hearing from 12 October.