TWO men travelled from London to blow up a car in a Bolton back street using an improvised grenade, a court has heard.

A jury at Bolton Crown Court was told how, in an elaborate plan, Darren Holland and accomplice Tom Omona used stolen cars, taken from a burglary in Milnrow, to carry out their scheme.

And after Omona hurled an improvised grenade into a woman’s BMW parked in Back Castle Street, Bolton, on the evening of July 23 last year, Holland, waiting nearby in a stolen Mini, drove the pair away.

Vanessa Thomson, prosecuting, told the jury how the BMW sustained extensive blast damage, writing off the £12,000 vehicle and propelling shrapnel.

"This would cause significant damage to the property in the surrounding areas," said Miss Thomson.

"Persons in the immediate vicinity of the IED at the time of initiation would have been at risk of serious injury."

In fact the BMW X3's owner, Tiffany Stephens' children had been playing in their garden just half an hour before the blast at 8.40pm.

Taxi driver Mohammed Zubair Mirza was parked just yards away, talking to his brother on the phone when he spotted a tall black man, in dark clothing with his head and face covered, heading towards the BMW.

"I was surprised and scared when I saw his head and face covered," stated Mr Mirza.

He told police how the man, later identified as Omona, picked up a stone and unsuccessfully tried to smash the car's window. He succeeded with a second try and threw something into the car's interior before running off.

"The explosion was very loud. People came out of their homes soon after the explosion," said Mr Mirza.

The car was left smoking and with sparks coming from the roof.

Nearby resident Harvey Scowcroft told the court that he did not initially realise what had happened.

"I thought, 'that's a firework', but it was a type of gun sounding bang rather than a firework bang," said Mr Scowcroft.

After the explosion Holland and Omona are said to have dumped the Mini in an alleyway off Torridon Road, setting it alight.

"It is clear that there was a need to get rid of this vehicle due to its involvement in the explosion," said Miss Thomson.

She told how the pair transferred to a Qashqai, which had also been stolen in the burglary and provided to them by Luqman Hamid, and then headed to Rochdale.

After a meeting in Davyhulme Street, Rochdale, with Hamid, the pair headed to Ras Motors in Regent Street, Rochdale, at 10.22pm where Omona got out of the car with a petrol can and poured the contents over five vehicles, setting them alight.

The jury was told that the Qashqai was then dumped in Alice Street where it too was set alight and Holland and Omona headed back to Harrow, London, in the Renault Clio they had travelled North in earlier in the day.

But an eye-witness managed to take a photograph of the Clio and noted its registration number.

The court heard how police studied many hours of CCTV footage to piece together the men's movements and they were recognised by officers in Harrow when pictures were sent to London.

Omona, aged 29, of Mary Close, Stanmore, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion and conspiracy to destroy vehicles by fire.

Hamid, aged 31, of Yorkshire Street, Rochdale, has admitted three counts of assisting offences. Holland, aged 54, of Grange Farm Close, Harrow, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to damage vehicles by fire but denies conspiracy to cause an explosion.

His trial continues.