A bomb hoaxer from Northamptonshire who wheeled a fake explosive into a Tesco Extra and threatened to blow the place up unless they emptied the tills for him has been jailed for five years.
Former Nether Heyford man Stewart Nightingale, 43, was handed the sentence at Norwich Crown Court yesterday after he carried out the elaborate hoax in a store in Great Yarmouth in March last year.
The incident led to the bomb squad being called and a 100 metre cordon being placed round the supermarket in the popular coastal town.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Kevin Maskell, of Norfolk Constabulary, said the hoax saw resources diverted away from genuine emergencies.
He said: “The sentence handed to Nightingale 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.”
On March 6, 2015, Nightingale entered the Tesco with a bag in his hand, before placing it in a trolley and leaving the supermarket at around 3.30pm.
Around 18 minutes later, he called Tesco’s national customer services from a public phone box on Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth - with Nightingale stating he had left his personal bag in the store and would like to speak to someone who works there.
The phone call was transferred to a member of staff in the shop and Nightingale directed her to the trolley at the front of the store.
She discovered the bag inside containing a shoebox and an old mobile phone with wires attached to it. He stated it was a bomb and he could detonate the device by using the mobile phone, but did not want the store evacuated or the police called.
The staff member handed the call over to the store manager who then spoke to Nightingale. He demanded that the tills be emptied and for arrangements be made for a drop-off in the town. The manager stated that this would not be possible and put Nightingale on hold. He then instructed a staff member to call police and asked that staff evacuate the store. The store manager did not speak to Nightingale again.
Police officers attended and a 100-metre cordon was put in place around the scene to ensure the public’s safety.
Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal officers were deployed to the scene and safely disposed of the item. Further enquiries established the incident was a result of a hoax call.
An investigation was launched, including the release of CCTV images and audio of the phone call made, resulting in Nightingale being arrested on April 27, 2015.
He was questioned by officers and subsequently charged on 20 June 2015.
Nightingale, who lived in Great Yarmouth at the time, previously lived in Weston Avenue, Nether Heyford.
He had already admitted one count of blackmail and one count of making a bomb hoax last month.