Elderly survivalist's home was booby-trapped, could have exploded

A look at the entrance to a bunker at 30 Virgilwood Cres. in Barrie. (Barrie Police Photo)

A look at the entrance to a bunker at 30 Virgilwood Cres. in Barrie. (Barrie Police Photo)

Tracy McLaughlin, Special to QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:37 PM ET

BARRIE, Ont. -- Civilians and police officers could easily have been blown up if even one of the pipe bombs or chemical explosives stored by an eccentric old man in his home and backyard bunker were accidentally set off, a court heard Friday.

Willy Feldhoff, 77, pleaded guilty in July 2012 to 16 charges including possession of bombs, booby traps, nerve gas and firearms that were stashed throughout his home, shed and garage and hidden in a concrete backyard bunker.

Bomb experts and police officers spent weeks dismantling the massive stash while area homes were evacuated and residents, including children and sick elderly people, had to find somewhere else to stay.

"What if there was a kitchen fire?" Crown attorney Bhavna Bhangu asked Friday during the sentencing hearing. "Our police officers could have lost their lives ... You wouldn't even want to be on that street."

One booby trap was tripped and set to go, 80 pipe bombs were scattered over the property, guns were found inside a hidden wall and 11,000 rounds of ammunition were found.

"What was he doing with all that stuff?" Bhangu asked. "Who is he really?"

Defence lawyer Bernard Cugelman argued his client is a harmless old man obsessed with survival after growing up as a small child in a bombed-out town in Germany during the Second World War.

"He suffered through horrors we can only imagine. There were bodies everywhere. There was no food. There were no pets because they were all eaten," Cugelman said. "He is a broken old man, obsessed with the armageddon written about in the Bible, but he never intended to hurt a soul."

But the Crown scoffed at the picture of a harmless old man.

Banghu pointed out some of the guns Feldhoff purchased were from David Bell, a member of the former Vagabonds motorcycle gang. She added how 35 years ago Feldhoff gave one of those guns to his then-20-year-old son "to use to scare off people."

The son, Donald Feldhoff, is charged with using the gun to commit first-degree murder in the 1978 shooting death of Michael Traynor, who was found bound and shot to death in a ditch outside the city.

Willy Feldhoff is also charged in connection with helping his son dispose of the body, but that case is not yet set for trial.

Feldhoff will be back in court for further submissions Dec. 23.


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