A FORMER BNP candidate who stockpiled chemicals and food because he feared the country was heading to civil war has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

But Robert Cottage, of Talbot Street, Colne, could be out of prison within six months due to the time he has spent on remand, police said.

Cottage, who was sentenced yesterday at Manchester Crown Court, has already spent 10 months in custody.

Following a trial, he and David Jackson, of Nelson, were cleared of conspiracy to cause an explosion last month.

But Cottage had earlier pleaded guilty to the less serious charge of possessing explosives.

Detectives said Cottage, a former school bus driver, had become increasingly paranoid, stockpiling chemicals and food in fear of civil war and national disaster.

Police launched an investigation when his wife Carina told Social Services carers that she was frightened by his behaviour.

He had told the court during his trial that he intended to make "thunder flashes" or fireworks near the door to ward off intruders in the event of a crisis.

After the case, Detective Inspector Dave Hickey said: "He has already spent a long time on remand, and that coupled with the early release scheme means he is likely to be out within six months.

"After that, he will be monitored closely by parole officers.

"He is a man of previous good character and his life has dramatically changed because of this investigation.

"His marriage has broken up and he has lost his job so when he comes out of prison he has got to rebuild his life.

"His experience will perhaps have a sobering effect on the more radical elements of his views.

"We feel the sentence justifies the way in which the matter has been handled by the police and the prosecution authorities.

"He was a very eccentric man with very eccentric views that most people would not agree with, although it's probably fair to say they were honestly-held views."