A 46-year-old man who made a bomb hoax call claiming three explosive devices had been planted in Doncaster town centre has been jailed for 15 months.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how at around 4.30pm on April 16 last year Colin Masson, of Beckett Road, Wheatley made a call to Sheffield Star reporter, Polly Rippon, informing her that there were three explosive devices located around the town centre, including one at the Doncaster Interchange.
During the sentencing this morning, prosecutor Robert Sandford told the court that Masson, aged 46, informed Ms Rippon that the devices would ‘explode’ between 8pm and midnight that evening.
“He said there were three devices in Doncaster town centre, one at the bus station, and two others but she couldn’t catch the location of the other two,” explained Mr Sandford.
He added: “When she asked how he knew about it, he said ‘because we put them there’.”
After receiving the call, Ms Rippon contacted South Yorkshire Police who deployed officers to Doncaster town centre to look for the devices.
A total of eight members of staff at the Doncaster Interchange, as well as 11 people working at the adjacent Frenchgate Shopping Centre also joined the bomb search, which lasted for over an hour before police determined that the call was a hoax.
Mr Sandford said: “Not only were a large amount of resources used, but it also caused considerable alarm to those involved.”
Detectives traced the mobile phone used by Masson to make the call and he was arrested on July 26, 2015
Defending, Guz Nawaz Hussain told the court that Masson had been suffering with mental health problems in the run up to the incident.
He said: “This is a man who unfortunately was on a downward spiral and hit rock bottom shortly before carrying out this offence.
“There’s no getting away from the fact this caused a lot of inconvenience and distress.
“But this wasn’t born out of spite, or a desire to become someone in the newspapers. It was a consequence of the acute illness he was suffering from.”
Mr Hussain continued his mitigation by telling the court that Masson had not attempted to withhold his number when he made the bomb hoax call, and had purchased the mobile phone from a ‘busy town centre shop’ - making him easier to trace.
Mr Hussain suggested this conduct ‘demanded the failure’ of the hoax.
This was disputed by Recorder David Smith who said Masson ‘waited a year’ before acknowledging his crime, which occurred when he pleaded guilty to the offence of false communication with intent on the morning of the scheduled trial in March this year.
Sentencing Masson to 15 months in prison, Recorder Mr Smith said: “Had you confessed to your crime earlier some of the argument put forward so well by Mr Hussain could have been considered further.
“This offence is a serious one because of the perilous time in which we all live.
“Hoaxes cause fear and desperation. The victim of this type of crime is society itself.
“The courts have to send a message that clearly show that bomb hoaxes will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Recorder Mr Smith also ordered the confiscation of Masson’s phone.