Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 13:05 UK

Man admits Bluewater bomb threat

Bluewater Shopping Centre
Saeed Ghafoor told officers he thought Bluewater was in Exeter

A prisoner has pleaded guilty to making threats to blow up one of Europe's largest shopping centres with three limousines packed with explosives.

Saeed Ghafoor, 33, of Southampton, made the threat to a prison officer while at HMP Haverigg in Cumbria on 7 February.

The former English teacher appeared via video-link at the Old Bailey charged with threatening to cause criminal damage at Bluewater in Kent.

The court was told Ghafoor thought the shopping centre was in Exeter.

It appeared on the face of it to be a serious threat by someone who was not happy
Prosecutor Pierce Arnold

Ghafoor was in prison serving a 12-month sentence imposed by Southampton Crown Court in January for threats to kill his sister and assault.

The court was told he had grabbed her round the throat and also threatened her with a knife.

After being released on licence on 7 March, Ghafoor was arrested and taken to Carlisle police station, where he was questioned and charged.

Prosecutor Pierce Arnold said he was now in Wandsworth prison as his licence had been revoked.

He said: "Mr Ghafoor made the threat and it was treated seriously.

"We do not know if he could have carried it out. It was not a bomb hoax. It appeared on the face of it to be a serious threat by someone who was not happy."

'No disorder'

Mr Arnold said the first prison officer he spoke to formed the impression that Ghafoor was a "fantasist" but took the threat seriously.

Senior prison officer Dawn Pugh then went to see him and he told her: "I am planning to bomb Bluewater shopping centre in Exeter."

Another prison officer had pointed out that Bluewater was in Kent. Ghafoor told him: "The plan is not finalised yet."

He said he was protesting at the involvement of British and American troops in Afghanistan.

He was seen by the prison imam, who formed the impression that Ghafoor was susceptible to brainwashing.

After his arrest, a psychiatrist told police he had no mental disorder, said Mr Arnold.

He was remanded in custody for reports before sentencing next month.

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