Man in court over Sheffield chemicals discovery

Roads are closed for a second day follwing an incident around Ridgehill Avenue area meaning residents to be evacuated from their homes again. Scenes from Newlands Road.
Roads are closed for a second day follwing an incident around Ridgehill Avenue area meaning residents to be evacuated from their homes again. Scenes from Newlands Road.

THE man suspected of storing explosive chemicals linked to drug production - which caused residents to be evacuated from their homes, is due in court today.

About 50 homes were evacuated on Thursday and again on Friday after police found the chemicals at a semi-detached propety on Ridgehill Avenue, Intake.

A 100m exclusion zone was set up on Friday before bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion.

Residents, who have criticised the police handling of the operation, were finally allowed home in the early hours of Saturday.

Jamie Curtis, aged 34, of Ridgehill Avenue, was due to appear at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court today, charged with two offences of possessing an explosive.

Police said the chemicals were consistent with those used in the production of class A drugs and explosives.

A second man in his 60s, arrested in relation to the incident, has been released and bailed until June, pending further enquiries.

The operation caused havoc on Thursday, when the street was cordoned off and residents asked to leave.

They were allowed back to their homes late on Thursday night, but then were evacuated again on Friday morning after a second police search found more chemicals.

Families were forced to find alternative accommodation with friends and relatives, until they were finally allowed back into their homes in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Neighbours said Curtis’ mother knocked on residents’ doors on Saturday to apologise for the disruption.

Neighbour Stella Kilcoyne, aged 30, mum to daughters aged four and two, said residents were left completely uninformed as to what was happening throughout the operation.

“I understand safety is paramount and I have no problem with what the police have done here,” she said.

“But the communication has been really bad.

“On both Thursday and Friday I left the house just before they announced the evacuations - they could have warned me it was going to happen.

“But each time they watched me drive away and then when I came back I couldn’t get onto the street.

“I have two young girls and we have had to beg and borrow clothes for them.”

Her husband John, 32, an electrician, said: “Luckily we’ve got relatives in Handsworth and Norton Lees, so we had somewhere to stay.”

Mum-of-two Deborah Brady, 48, a nurse, who lives next door to the house searched by the police, said: “On Thursday I was calling the 101 line and every time they just said ‘it’ll be another hour’.

“And then on Friday I was in the kitchen and my mother called to say I was being evacuated. The police hadn’t even told me yet.”

Mrs Brady said the evacuation had been a problem for her 18-year-old daughter who is studying for her A levels.

A police spokesman said: “South Yorkshire Police understands the frustrations of residents affected by the incident on Ridgehill Avenue.

“The safety of residents was the number-one concern for officers dealing with a complex situation that was continually unfolding.

“It was necessary to evacuate some residents without being able to confirm exactly how long the cordon would be required.

“South Yorkshire Police again apologise for any inconvenience caused during what was a delicate process and thank residents for their patience and cooperation.”