Bo­gus bomb threat teenager is jailed

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - CHARLES BROWN NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: yp.news­[email protected] ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

CRIME: A teenager in­spired by the Columbine High School mas­sacre has been jailed af­ter mak­ing bo­gus bomb threats to hun­dreds of UK schools, in­clud­ing some in York­shire, and spark­ing an air­port se­cu­rity scare.

Ge­orge Duke-Co­han twice tar­geted schools in the UK and US with hoax mes­sages.

A TEENAGER in­spired by the Columbine High School mas­sacre has been jailed af­ter mak­ing bo­gus bomb threats to hun­dreds of UK schools, in­clud­ing some in York­shire, and spark­ing an air­port se­cu­rity scare.

Ge­orge Duke-Co­han twice tar­geted schools in the UK and US with hoax mes­sages that trig­gered evac­u­a­tions, be­fore phon­ing in a fake re­port of a hi­jacked air­craft while un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The 19-year-old, of Wat­ford, emailed Marl­bor­ough Col­lege – the Wilt­shire school at­tended by the Duchess of Cam­bridge – and re­ferred to the Columbine High School shoot­ing.

He was jailed for three years by Judge Richard Foster at Lu­ton Crown Court yesterday.

The Recorder of Lu­ton told him: “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-and­mouse game with the au­thor­i­ties.

“You were play­ing a game for your own per­verted sense of fun in full knowl­edge of the con­se­quences.”

In his sen­tenc­ing re­marks, the judge added: “The scale of what you did was enor­mous.

“Schools were evac­u­ated and, where they were not, those in charge had to take ag­o­nis­ing de­ci­sions.”

The teenager ap­peared from cus­tody wear­ing a grey jumper with a navy col­lar.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of mak­ing hoax bomb threats in Septem­ber.

Duke-Co­han, who was do­ing an IT course, 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.

Hum­ber­side Po­lice said at the time that 19 schools in East York­shire and North Lin­colnshire had re­ceived the email, while a North York­shire Po­lice spokesman said it had also had a num­ber of re­ports about the bomb hoax.

Prose­cu­tor Re­becca Austin said he sent emails to more than 1,700 schools in the UK be­tween March 16 and 19 this year.

The emails threat­ened to set off an ex­plo­sive de­vice if pay­ment was not made.

Po­lice ar­rested Duke-Co­han days later, but he was able to send an­other batch of emails to schools in the US and UK while un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in April.

The court heard that Marl­bor­ough Col­lege was tar­geted on April 13 by what was re­ferred to as the “Apophis Squad” hoax emails.

Ms Austin said it was “clear” that Duke-Co­han used the in­flu­ence of the Columbine at­tack of 1999 to add “au­then­tic­ity”.

Duke-Co­han was then ar­rested for a sec­ond time and re­leased on pre-charge bail with con­di­tions that he did not use elec­tronic de­vices.

Be­fore long, his name was in the frame for a third hoax, re­gard­ing a bo­gus tip-off that hi­jack­ers had taken over a United Air­lines flight from Heathrow to San Fran­cisco, Cal­i­for­nia.

De­tec­tives found that DukeCo­han had made the calls to San Fran­cisco Air­port and its po­lice force while he was on pre-charge bail for the two pre­vi­ous of­fences.

He was ar­rested for a third time at his home in Mutch­etts Close, Wat­ford, on Au­gust 31 this year. The teenager was sen­tenced to one year for the emails sent to schools and two years for the air­port se­cu­rity scare.

The judge said that, for the pur­poses of sen­tenc­ing, he ac­cepted that Duke-Co­han has autism spec­trum dis­or­der.

Anya Lewis, mit­i­gat­ing for Duke-Co­han, de­scribed him as “vul­ner­a­ble” and “re­morse­ful”.

You were play­ing a cat and mouse game with the au­thor­i­ties. Judge Richard Foster, Recorder of Lu­ton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.