Teenager is jailed for school hoax bomb threats
A teenager has been jailed after making bogus bomb threats to hundreds of UK schools and sparking an airport security scare.
George Duke-Cohan, 19, twice targeted schools in the UK and the US with hoax messages that triggered evacuations, before phoning in a fake report of a hijacked aircraft while under investigation.
Duke-Cohan, from Watford, Hertfordshire, emailed Marlborough College in Wiltshire and referred to the Columbine high school shooting.
He was jailed for three years on Friday at Luton crown court by Judge Richard Foster, who said: “You knew exactly what you were doing and why you were doing it, and you knew full well the havoc that would follow.
“You were playing a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. You were playing a game for your own perverted sense of fun in full knowledge of the consequences.
“Schools were evacuated and, where they were not, those in charge had to take agonising decisions. The passengers and crew on that flight on 9 August must have been terrified when their plane was taken to a quarantined area.”
Duke-Cohan pleaded guilty in September to three counts of making hoax bomb threats. He first created panic in March 2018 when he emailed thousands of schools in the UK warning about an explosive.
The National Crime Agency said more than 400 schools were evacuated as a result. The emails threatened to set off an explosive device if payment was not made.
One email said: “We’ve sent in a student with a bomb. The bomb is set to go off in three hours’ time. If you do not send $5,000 … we will blow up the device. If you try to call the cops, we will blow up the device on the spot.”
Police arrested Duke-Cohan days later, but he was able to send another batch of emails to schools in the US and the UK while under investigation in April. The court heard that Marlborough College was targeted on 13 April.
Austin said it was “clear” that Duke-Cohan used the influence of the 1999 Columbine attack to add “authenticity”. The email sent to Marlborough College said: “We follow in the footsteps of our two heroes who died in the Columbine high school shooting.”
The teenager was sentenced to one year for the emails sent to schools and two years for the airport security scare.