Page last updated at 18:11 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 19:11 UK

Firefighter 'found bomb in car'

CCTV footage of two men in a hotel
Prosecutors say Dr Abdulla and Mr Ahmed were caught on CCTV in a hotel

A firefighter has told a jury how he discovered a car bomb parked outside a busy London nightclub.

Andrew Shaw told Woolwich Crown Court he removed a gas cylinder which had been emitting vapour from inside an empty green Mercedes.

He then noticed other bomb components like mobile phones, shrapnel and nails.

Doctors Bilal Abdulla, 29, from Paisley, and Mohammed Asha, 27, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, deny conspiracies to murder and to cause explosions.

Both were employed by the NHS.

The court heard how Soho fire station's blue watch crew was called to Tiger in Haymarket at 1.41am on 29 June last year.

About 550 customers were in the club at the time.

Strong smell

Mr Shaw said he was surprised to find the car unlocked.

He said: "I could smell gas and was trying to work out what it was. It was coming from between the two seats. It was quite strong."

Inside he found the gas cylinder wedged between the driver's seat and the rear footwall.

He said: "I decided to use brute force and just yank it out."

However, after taking out the cylinder and turning off the valve he suddenly saw the shrapnel, nails and bits of metal alongside another cylinder in the footwall.

"I saw two mobile phones and wires coming from the phones. At that point it doesn't take long for the penny to drop. I just thought, it's a bomb or improvised device," said Mr Shaw.

The bomb squad was immediately called out, Mr Shaw said.

In a written statement, explosives officer Paul Humphrey, who made the device safe, said he found two Nokia phones between the two front seats with attached wires, plus two cylinders.

A rickshaw
Mr Ahmed and Dr Abdulla allegedly took rickshaws after planting the bombs

It is alleged Dr Abdulla, 29, parked the Mercedes outside the nightclub.

A second car bomb left by Kael Ahmed, 28, in nearby Cockspur Street also failed to go off because the mobile phone detonators did not work.

A parking attendant had given the vehicle a ticket for being parked in a bus lane, unaware of the bomb, the court heard.

It was later towed to a car pound before police linked it to the Haymarket device and it was rendered safe by an explosives officer.

Police used a remote device to smash a window and a robot arm to peel off the blanket on the rear seats.

The jury was shown CCTV stills allegedly showing Abdulla carrying a rucksack and Ahmed clutching a holdall, walking separately through West End streets and taking rickshaws after planting the bombs.

Footage which the prosecution claims shows the men checking into a hotel in Stratford, east London, later that night, was also played in court.

The following day, Mr Ahmed drove a jeep into a terminal building at Glasgow airport. He later died from burns. Dr Abdulla is alleged to have been a passenger in the vehicle.

Prosecutors claim Dr Abdulla and Mr Ahmed made the three car bombs. Dr Asha is accused of providing money and advice behind the scenes.

The trial continues.

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