A man accused of creating a bomb hoax when he placed an e-cigarette battery at the gates of a Territorial Army site was in the grip of a psychotic episode, a court heard.

Jake Freeman told the jury that he had been diagnosed with autism at an early age and had been receiving treatment of psychosis since he was aaged about 20.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant picked the battery up from the roadside near the army base and simply wanted to dispose of it.

Freeman said he never intended to cause any alarm or to create a bomb hoax when he left it outside the site on Neasham Road, Darlington.

Giving evidence during his trial, the defendant said he couldn’t find a bin to dispose of the battery and thought it wouldn’t cause any problem if he left it at the security gates of the TA centre.

The Northern Echo:

Dr Christopher Wood, representing Freeman, asked him when he became aware of the resulting bomb scare and what he did when he arrived at Darlington police station.

Freeman said: “I was going to tell them that that wasn’t what really happened.”

When asked whether he thought he would be arrested after telling the officer that he was the person they were looking for in their social media post, he replied: “No, I didn’t think it was that big of an issue and I had plans for later in the day.

“I really didn’t think somebody would think that the device might be dangerous."

Under cross examination from prosecuting counsel, Joe Culley, the defendant maintained that it never crossed his mind that people would think it was an explosive device.

When asked about his behaviour in the police station following his arrest when he shouted - "Bang, there you go.

"I put a bomb at the army. Bang. Remember, remember the fifth of November when Guy Fawkes blew up Parliament."

Freeman said: “I regret it – it was in response to the situation. It was just sarcasm.”

Mr Culley said: “You said ‘I’m the bomb hoaxer’ – is that sarcasm?” The defendant replied: “Yes.”

Jurors listened to a transcript of the defendant’s police interview where he became involved in a verbal altercation with one of the officers.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

Get more from The Northern Echo with a digital subscription. Click here

The Northern Echo:

Freeman branded the officer a ‘fat b******’ before asking him how he became so fat. The officer replied: “Every time I b*** your mother she bakes me a cake. I used to be built like you.”

When asked how the conversation impacted on him, the defendant said it had caused him some upset during the interview.

Freeman, of Walworth Crescent, Darlington, has been charged with placing an article with intent to cause a bomb hoax.

The trial continues.