A man who attempted to board a Ryanair flight with a potentially viable pipe bomb was arrested on his return to the UK having been allowed to fly to Italy.

So unconcerned were airport security officials on discovering the device in the zip lining of 43-year-old Nedeem Muhammad’s luggage that one put it in her pocket for safe keeping.

A trial at Manchester Crown Court heard how Muhammad, who lives in Bury, was stopped at security in Manchester Airport’s terminal three on January 30.

The ‘crude improvised explosive device’ made of batteries, masking tape, wire and the tube of a marker pen was found and swabbed for explosives but considered not viable.

After questioning by counter terrorism police Muhammad, who was not arrested, was allowed to fly to Italy on February 5.

However, tests on the device later found it to be potentially viable and he was arrested on his return to Manchester on February 12.

Jonathan Sandiford, for the prosecution, told the court the device “would send out fragments of the tube and the pins causing injury to anyone near by”.

“It was not something which could be detonated by a mobile phone or a pressure switch or when the aeroplane had reached a certain altitude.

“We accept it was crude and would have been unreliable but it was intended to be, and was capable of being, a viable explosive device.”

Sandiford said the “defendant attempted to carry an assembled and viable improvised explosive device through security at Manchester airport and on to the Ryanair flight with which he was booked to fly to Bergamo.

“The only reason he would have for trying to get that explosive device on to the aeroplane was that he intended to detonate it within the confines of the Boeing 737 aircraft.”

Sandiford said terrorism was the most likely motive but conceded that it “could be a desire to commit suicide or another purpose altogether”.

Deborah Jeffrey, terminal security manager at the airport, told the trial she had put the device into the pocket of her jacket “so it wouldn’t go missing”.

She said Muhammad was asked how the object had got into his case and he claimed someone else may have put it there.

Muhammad was born in Pakistan but had an Italian passport.

He denies possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or property and an alternative charge of possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances.

The trial continues.