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‘Significant optimism’ for amateur bomber despite disturbing past

The disturbing past of a Victorian man who turned to making bombs in his home has been laid bare in court, with stabbings, drug dependence and sexual abuse all running rife in the lead-up to a homemade explosion.

Waurn Ponds man Aaron Church was arrested in September 2020 after planting a series of explosive devices in the vicinity of Monterey Drive.

In the early hours of September 27, he placed two homemade bombs on a neighbour’s fence, with the victim alarmed by a loud bang before seeing flames emerge from a paint tin.

One of the devices included dangerous shrapnel made up of metal, nails and screws.

Waurn Ponds Bomb
Camera IconAaron Church was searched and arrested by police after planting homemade bombs near his home. Alan Barber Credit: News Corp Australia

Police found more homemade explosives in Church’s house, as well as a nearby tree, following his arrest.

The bomb squad was deployed to safely detonate the remaining explosives.

But the 33-year-old Church, sentenced to two years and three months in prison by Judge Justin Hannebery in the County Court of Victoria was told on Tuesday. on Tuesday, was riddled with a history of violence and drug use in the lead-up to his bomb making.

The West Australian-born man moved to Victoria as an eight-year-old, forging a childhood marred by his parents’ divorce and various school moves before dropping out in year 10.

Church has claimed he was sexually abused during childhood, the court was told.

Turning to bricklaying and concreting, Church began suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome before being stabbed in a violent attack and struck in the head with a cricket bat in a separate incident.

Waurn Ponds Bomb
Camera IconThe bomb squad was called in to safely detonate other devices Church had planted. Alan Barber Credit: News Corp Australia

An early adulthood plagued by drugs and crime landed him in custody, where he was the victim of a second stabbing.

The court was told his drug use – Church confessed he was using methamphetamine daily in a psychological report – was a factor in his criminal behaviour.

Church previously claimed his bomb making was the result of boredom rather than stemming from any intent to harm the community.

Judge Hannebery wasn’t entirely convinced on such a submission but maintained optimism for the amateur bomber’s chances of rehabilitation provided he can avoid drug and alcohol use.

“Your decision to make bombs is troubling. I do not necessarily accept this was just relief from boredom,” Judge Hannebery said.

“(But) it is conceded that there is no likelihood life was endangered.

“While your prospects of rehabilitation remain guarded, there is scope for significant optimism … dependent on your ability to remain abstinent from alcohol and drug abuse.

“You have accepted responsibility for your actions and shown response.”

The broad-chested, tattooed and bearded Church appeared from jail via video link to learn his fate.

He won’t be eligible for parole for a year and six months and also received a $500 fine.

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