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Suspended sentence for Sudbury bomb hoax caller

PUBLISHED: 17:05 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:05 06 September 2018

A police officer standing outside Barclays Bank in Sudbury after the suspicious package was found.  
Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A police officer standing outside Barclays Bank in Sudbury after the suspicious package was found. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Police and councillors have spoken of the “considerable disruption” and “waste of resources” after a man convicted of making a hoax bomb call walked free from court.

Firefighters investigating the scene in after the package was found
Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNFirefighters investigating the scene in after the package was found Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The incident in Sudbury on January 31, saw police, fire and Army bomb disposal officers sent to Barclays Bank on Market Hill after a suspect package was found in a rucksack.

It led to a complete lock-down of Sudbury town centre with shops evacuated and all main roads closed.

Mark Brett of Tudor Road, Sudbury had denied a charge of communicating false information but was found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday after a trial lasting two days.

Brett was found not guilty by the jury of the second charge that he denied of placing an article with intent.

Firefighters investigate the scene in Sudbury.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNFirefighters investigate the scene in Sudbury. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He was sentenced today to 12 months in prison, suspended for 24 months, 180 hours of unpaid community work, to take part in 15 days of rehabilitation activity and costs of £500 to be paid within six months.

Sentencing Brett, Judge Emma Peters said he had caused a great deal of inconvenience to the emergency services and the public.

“If I was able to make you apologise to them I would,” she said. “In these dark days of the heightened terrorist threat in this country people are on edge because of the risk of bomb threats.

“The emergency services are under a great deal of pressure dealing with such matters. When people like you get involved with making bomb hoax calls to operators to pass on to the emergency services, it causes anguish and hard work - anguish to those in the immediate vicinity and a great deal of hard work to the emergency services who are diverted away from genuine emergencies.”

The court heard a phone call was made to the authorities at lunchtime on January 31 reporting that a suspected bomb had been planted in Barclays Bank.

Shortly afterwards a bank customer alerted staff to an unattended rucksack containing four large batteries taped together and connected with wires to give the appearance of an explosive device. The eight second call was later found to have originated from Brett’s phone, but with a different SIM card.

The court heard it was accepted the bag was planted by someone else.

Brett claimed a friend had used his phone to make a call in a nearby alleyway – a claim supported by CCTV footage.

Following the sentencing yesterday, DI Tamlyn Burgess of Bury St Edmunds CID said: “The incident caused great disruption to the town centre of Sudbury. The area had to be evacuated in the interests of public safety with a wide cordon put in place.

“At the time, the incident caused considerable alarm amongst many people and also meant many valuable police resources had to be diverted from elsewhere so to see Brett convicted is of great satisfaction.

“We re-iterate our thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding during the course of that afternoon due to the disruption caused by Brett’s hoax call.”

Jane Osborne, district and town councillor, said the incident caused “chaos” to the town and made people feel “unsafe”.

“The whole town come to a stand still for the day and caused chaos with the traffic,” she said.

“We have so many other issues we need our police to be working on and focussing their efforts on instead of wasting time and resources on someone who decides on a whim to make a hoax call.

“We need to be sending out a clear message and show people we won’t tolerate it.”

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