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Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Published at 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK


UK

How Mardi Gra was stung

One of the Mardi Gra bomber's home-made bombs

Edgar Pearce, the Mardi Gra bomber, had the better of police for four years - until his greed became too much.


[ image: Edgar Pearce: Mardi Gra bomber]
Edgar Pearce: Mardi Gra bomber
When the first bombs started arriving at Barclays branches and related businesses, police believed they were most likely the work of a disgruntled customer or bitter ex-employee of the bank.

The video-box bombs carried a macabre calling card welcoming victims to the "Mardi Gra Experience".

But the apparently random choice of private victims unconnected with the bank, and the switch to targetting Sainbury's supermarkets with demands for money left them to believe they were hunting a madman or a cunning, ruthless blackmailer.

In fact, the man they were looking for was both.


[ image:  ]
Edgar Pearce, 61-years-old, unemployed and divorced was a man obsessed with committing the "perfect crime", and thought he had found a way to pull it off.

He came up with a scheme by which he got a large sum of money paid into a bank account.

The plan then was to withdraw the funds using one of hundreds of cashpoint cards he had insisted be issued in a computer magazine under the guise of a promotion.

It was an elaborate plan - but he was to be foiled by an even more elaborate, and determined, police operation.

Cameras were set up and surveillance teams - boosted by officers from the National Crime Squad, the elite crime-fighting group which could call on more mobile surveillance units than any force in the world - were put in place.

The secret account was linked to a computer which set off a bell in Scotland Yard within three seconds of the PIN number being typed into a hole-in-the-wall machine.

Caught red-handed

Within an hour of first showing himself, Edgar Pearce was caught.

Nearly 1,000 men were on duty across the capital on April 28, 1998, waiting for him to make his move.

Edgar Pearce, parked his car in Bridge Way, Whitton, west London, and walked to the nearby Nationwide Building Society branch to withdraw what he hope would be the first instalment of his fortune.

The escape route was blocked by unmarked police cars.

The following day police raided Edgar Pearce's home, in Cambridge Road North, an unassuming cul-de-sac in Chiswick, west London.

Inside they found an arsenal of home-made bombs and ammunition.

Bomb terror

The man who neighbours described as "weird" - with a reputation for frightening children - was finally revealed as the man who had terrorised businesses and hoodwinked police for four years.

Although Pearce's crude bombs - which often failed to go off - only seriously injured one person, they caused terror for dozens of other innocent people.

The daughter of one of his victims - 74-year-old called Joan Kane who had the misfortune to pick up one his packages by mistake - believes the trauma of the experience led indirectly to her mother's death.

Finally, the invisible bomber behind the attacks has been exposed, and his victims now wait to see justice done when the sentence is passed.



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