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Man who blew off fingers in pipe-bomb experiment gets conditional discharge

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

A Saskatoon man whose fingers were blown off when the pipe bomb he was making in his parents' garage exploded has been given a conditional discharge.

Court heard Dylan Gibson, who is 22, and three of his friends were inspired by the TV show Mythbusters and wanted to try making a bomb.

They stuffed a copper tube with hundreds of matches and when Gibson drilled into one of the caps, it exploded.

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When police arrived on Oct. 11, 2013, they found Gibson had severe injuries and his friend Aaron Stonehouse was also hurt.

Judge Albert Lavoie said Tuesday that he wanted to send a message to other young people about the dangers of experimenting with explosives, but one that would not leave Gibson with a criminal record.

Gibson, who lost all the digits on his one hand, has posted a YouTube video to warn people about the dangers of making a pipe bomb.

It has no sound and is a series of slides. One says: "I tried to make a homemade explosive and while doing so I thought I was doing everything 'right.' I was wrong."

The video then shows a photo of Gibson's hand shortly after the blast.

"No matter how safe it 'may' be it is not, it is very dangerous," another slide reads.

"I am thankful and lucky it was only my hand but it could easily have been my arm, face or even killed me."

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Lavoie told Gibson it was fortunate no one was killed.

"What you did was so incredibly dangerous," the judge said.

The Crown withdrew the original charge of breaching a legal duty of care towards an explosive and causing bodily harm. Gibson was then charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, to which he pleaded guilty.

"Imagine the horror of first responders arriving on the scene," Lavoie told Gibson, who nodded in agreement. Lavoie said he expects Gibson to be accountable for his actions and share his misfortunes when asked about them.

If Gibson had been convicted of an explosives charge, he could be added to a special list that could restrict where he flies and prohibit him from entering the United States.

Gibson's conditions include one year of probation and 30 hours of community service. He is also prohibited from using firearms for 10 years.

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Defence lawyer Rich Gabruch, who had requested some form of discharge, said the sentence is what they hoped for.

"It is satisfying that the system worked," he said. "I know that Judge Lavoie had to look at it closely and wrap his head around a few things."

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