July 29 2014 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Sunday, June 8, 2014
A teenager told police a bomb was due to go off at a Norwich shopping centre so his brother could finish his shift at Burger King early, a court has heard.
Luke Brown, 18, called police on 999 to report there was a bomb in the food court of Castle Mall which was due to go off in six hours time.
Brown, of Arnold Miller Road, Norwich, made the call from phone box on Long John Hill where he was arrested after police attended on March 6 this year.
Checks of the mall were made but no device was found and no-one was evacuated from the shopping centre following the incident which police chiefs have today condemned as “astonishing” in its “stupidity”.
Brown, who admitted making the bomb hoax, told police his brother was working in Burger King in the mall and “wanted to go home early” do had asked if he make a call to police and “make something up”.
Brown appeared at Norwich Crown Court to be sentenced yesterday after he previously admitted the bomb hoax. He asked to enter the witness box to tell Judge Stephen Holt that he was “very sorry” for what he did.
Sentencing Brown to six months in a young offenders institution (YOI), Judge Holt said it was an “unsophisticated prank” and described the defendant as a “foolish young man”.
But he said he would be “failing in his public duty” if he did not pass an immediate custodial sentence.
He said: “People must learn that you cannot send out bomb hoaxes because if you do you will end up in prison.”
Richard Kelly, prosecuting, said following the call police officers carried out a “discreet search” of the shopping centre but it was quickly established it was a hoax.
The court heard nine police officers, two police community support officers, a dog unit, a crime scene investigator were all deployed to the mall.
In addition a number of resources were taken up by the incident in the force control room.
Michael Clare, mitigating, said Brown, who suffers from learning difficulties and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, pleaded guilty and had been a “stupid boy”.
He said it was far removed from the sort of thing that was “politically motivated” or something that was “criminally sophisticated”.
He said: “It’s a childish immature prank by someone who is seriously academically challenged.”
Speaking after the case, Superintendent Neil Baily said: “It’s astonishing to think of the stupidity of someone who would call to make a bomb hoax just to get his brother off work early.
“In any case our priority is the safety of the public and we have to treat these incidents seriously from the outset.
“Hoax calls are not victimless crimes; they create fear and disruption to the community and also require a significant amount of resource from emergency services.
“The sentence underlines the seriousness of deliberately wasting police time and taking resources away from legitimate demands.
“We will always seek to prosecute where appropriate and I hope this case acts as a warning to others.”