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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Students jailed for bomb hoax
Luton University
The fake bombs were planted at student halls at Luton University
Three university students who sparked a major terrorist alert with a fake bomb have each been jailed for two years.

Azar Ali, 21, Wajad Majad, 20, and Abdul Malik, 25, who were all computing undergraduates at Luton University, aimed to shock a female student by delivering the hoax device to her hall of residence.

The alarm was raised when they asked Babtunde Almaroof, another student in their hall of residence, to take a photograph of them with the bomb.

They then told him they were going to blow something up.

Luton Crown Court was told by prosecutor Michael Speak that Mr Almaroof was concerned because the bomb resembled one in the Hollywood film, Speed.

You embarked on the sickest of sick pranks against a fellow student
Judge Anthony Ansell

He left the room and dialled 999, sparking a full scale alert at 0630 BST on 21 March.

Mr Speak said armed police, special branch officers and the bomb squad were called out.

The area around the Hall of Residence, including Luton's bus and rail stations were evacuated.

Gunpoint arrests

A remote-controlled robot was used to make sure the device was safe.

The bomb was found to consist of nothing more than fluorescent lighting tubes wrapped in insulating tape, cleaning powder and a watch.

The three defendants were woken at gunpoint by police and arrested.

Ali, of Plashet Road, Upton Park, London; Majad of Church Road, Manor Park and Malik of Osnaburgh Street, Camden were arrested on 21 March this year under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

They were later suspended by the university and have since left.

On Thursday, they appeared for sentence, having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to place a hoax bomb intending people to believe it would explode causing personal injury or damage to property.

'Played the fool'

Defence barrister for Ali, Gerard Pounder said: "If Ali could turn back the hands of time he would do so."

For Majad, Stephen Rose said: "Nobody is laughing now. He is not a terrorist, he played the fool."

Laurence Selby, for Malik, said: "He is of the Muslim faith and recognises he has done a huge disservice to the Muslim faith."

Judge Anthony Ansell told them: "You embarked on the sickest of sick pranks against a fellow student.

"In our society this sort of behaviour has to be marked by lengthy terms of custody.

"The message has to be sent out that bomb hoaxers will be dealt with severely."

Students charged in bomb hoax
22 Mar 03  |  England

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