A MAN who denies involvement in a grenade attack in a Bolton back street claims he was only the bomber's driver and did not ask questions.

Giving evidence in his own defence at Bolton Crown Court, Darren Holland told a jury that he had no knowledge of what his former drug dealer, Tom Omona was going to do.

A BMW parked in Back Castle Street on July 23 last year was destroyed in a blast after 29-year-old Omona smashed its window and hurled an improvised device in the vehicle.

Waiting round the corner for him, in a stolen Mini, was 54-year-old Holland.

"At that time I believed he was meeting somebody. For what, I didn't know," he said, adding that Omona was calm when he returned to the car and Holland drove away, claiming he did not hear any loud bang.

The Bolton News:

Omona, of Mary Close, Stanmore, has admitted conspiracy to cause an explosion and conspiracy to set vehicles on fire. Holland, of Grange Fold Close, Harrow, has admitted the latter charge but denies conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Holland told how he was at home that morning when Omona, who he had not seen for months, called at his house wanting him to drive him to Milton Keynes to pick up some cash. He told the jury that he did not ask why Omona did not drive the Clio himself.

"I didn't want to drive at all, " he said.

"I tried to talk my way out of it but every time he pulled me round. He is quite persuasive, for one thing and, to be honest, he's quite a violent man."

Holland said that when he reached Milton Keynes Omona told him the plan had changed and they were heading North.

In Rochdale the Clio was swapped for a Mini, which Holland drove to Bolton after going to a petrol station to fill a petrol can.

Omona later used petrol to set fire to the Mini, a Qashqai they transferred into and several vehicles at a car dealers in Rochdale, before the pair headed home to London.

Holland said he only realised what Omona was doing when he saw him take the petrol can to set fire to the Mini.

"I thought, 'what have I got myself involved in here'," he said.

Vanessa Thomson, prosecuting, suggested that Holland was more involved than he claimed and was not just following Omona's instructions.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of Holland walking near the Clio when it was parked in Rochdale and he appeared to be using a mobile phone. But Holland insisted that he did not have a phone and the video showed him picking his nose.

The trial continues.