Chesterfield terror suspect insists he wasn’t making bomb in town chippy

Andy Star.
Andy Star.
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A Chesterfield terror suspect has insisted he legally made fireworks - not a bomb - in the town.

Andy Star, 32, the former owner of the Mermaid Fish Bar on Sheffield Road, and his co-accused Farhad Salah, 23, of Brunswick Road, Sheffield, are on trial at Sheffield Crown Court jointly charged with preparing an act of terrorism in the UK in support of so-called Islamic State (IS). Both men deny the accusation.

Giving evidence on Thursday, Star claimed materials found in the flat above his then fish and chip shop - including black powder, potassium nitrate and sulphur - were for making fireworks.

Simon Kealey QC, representing Star, asked him: “Were you ever going to use any of the ingredients found for anything other than fireworks?”

Star replied: “No, never.”

He added he had no intention of making a bomb or any other form of explosive nor did he have any form of agreement to carry out acts of terrorism with Salah.

Star - wearing a dark suit and tie in the witness box - told how he thought he was dreaming when armed police raided his property on December 19 last year to arrest him.

He said: “I never expected anything like this in my life.

“I’m not a person who makes trouble.

“I didn’t know why they were there - I thought it might be because of the fireworks.

“I’ve done something which is legal.

“I wouldn’t make something dangerous.”

Star, who was born in Kurdistan, said he developed an interest in fireworks as a child.

He told the jury he made fireworks at the Mermaid Fish Bar and added: “It was a hobby.

“I got equipment to make fireworks on eBay.”

The son of a soldier, Star said he became a police officer in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk in 2004 and ‘went around arresting terrorists’, adding ‘my life was at risk’.

He explained how he came to the UK in 2008 after he left the Kirkuk force when a hand grenade was thrown into his house.

Star said he liked football, taking selfies and watching Mr Bean.

The Sunni Muslim stated he smoked, drank alcohol and had a ‘full relationship’ with his girlfriend in the UK.

“We had shared interests - fireworks, going to the countryside, cinema,” he added. They were not together at the time of his arrest.

Star said he started working at the Mermaid Fish Bar, which he owned with his brother, in the summer of 2015 and added: “We got on very well at the shop - we were like family.

“They were like brothers and sisters to me there.”

Star told the court he liked Facebook posts including one about the killing of ‘rats’ from IS and another in support of the YPG, which has fought against the terror group.

He admitted he watched around 15 minutes of an extremely graphic IS propaganda video called Flames of War in summer 2017.

Star added: “I didn’t like what I saw - I didn’t approve of it.

“After seeing that it really affected me - it was really horrific.”

He also said he made a video which showed a lit cigarette being pushed towards a piece a cotton because he thought it was ‘just something cool’.

And Star admitted he created a video of a small device - situated on top of a cardboard box - which was lit and detonated.

“I wanted to see how bright it was,” he said.

Cross-examining Star, prosecuting solicitor Anne Whyte QC accused him of telling multiple lies.

Star replied: “No, I’ve not told one lie.”

The trial continues.

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