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Wednesday, April 14, 1999 Published at 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK


Mardi Gra bomber jailed

Eltham High Street, London, after an attack on Sainsbury's

Mardi Gra bomber Edgar Pearce has been jailed for 21 years after admitting a three-year blackmail and terror campaign.

Pearce, 61, of Chiswick, west London, pleaded guilty last week to 20 charges including causing an explosion, possessing firearms and wounding.

Rupert Carey reports on how the bomber was tracked down
On Monday, the Old Bailey was told he suffered from a degenerative condition, Binswanger's disease, which was gradually eating away his brain.

But after hearing further medical reports on Wednesday, the Recorder of London, Michael Hyam, ruled out the prospect of Pearce receiving psychiatric treatment.

Sentencing Pearce to concurrent terms totalling 224 years, the judge said he had been motivated by greed and an "insatiable appetite for notoriety".

The BBC's Danny Shaw: There was evidence that he was planning a remote control bomb
Afterwards, Detective Superintendent Jeff Rees said he hoped the sentence would serve as a deterrent to prospective blackmailers.

He said Pearce had tried to avoid being caught in a "money trap" as had happened to extortionist Rodney Witchelo, who was caught and jailed 10 years ago.

But Det Supt Rees said: "He was caught and has been sentenced to an even longer term of imprisonment."

[ image: Edgar Pearce: Mardi Gra bomber]
Edgar Pearce: Mardi Gra bomber
The Mardi Gra bomber blackmailed Barclays Bank and Sainsbury's supermarkets, making at least 36 devices, some of which injured staff and customers.

The court was told that he had blackmailed Barclays after a dispute with the bank.

He switched his extortion campaign to the supermarket chain when he realised he would not get any money.

Pearce spent months stalking and photographing Sainsbury's customers.

He threatened to target 150 of them with a high-powered crossbow unless his demands for money were met.

[ image: The bomber's calling card]
The bomber's calling card
His campaign of terror cost Sainsbury's £640,000 in lost trade.

Pearce was arrested in Whitton, west London, on 28 April last year, after falling into a police trap when withdrawing money from a cash machine.

He had collected £700 that day - the only money he received during his campaign which resulted in several people being injured.

[ image: An advert placed to contact the blackmailer]
An advert placed to contact the blackmailer
At Pearce's home, police found a specially adapted briefcase able to take one of two cross-bows they recovered.

They also found more than 100 photographs of shoppers taken near various stores in the London area.

Pearce told police that he had spent three to four months taking the photographs and meticulously filing them in envelopes.

Pearce's brother Ronald, 67, also of Chiswick, has already been jailed for a year after he admitted possessing a stun gun.

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12 Apr 99†|†Medical notes
Binswanger's disease factfile

08 Apr 99†|†UK
Mardi Gra bomber's final act

07 Apr 99†|†UK
How Mardi Gra was stung

07 Apr 99†|†UK
Mardi Gra bomber confesses

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