Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Teenager sentenced over bomb hoax

Joel Broad
Joel Broad will serve his sentence at a youth detention centre

A 19-year-old man from Oxfordshire has been jailed for 14 months for carrying out a bomb hoax at the Swindon headquarters of WH Smith.

Joel Broad, from Banbury, admitted ringing the company's main switchboard on 1 September 2008 and said there was a bomb in customer services.

The hoax is said to have cost WH Smith 50,000 in lost revenue.

Broad, who appeared at Swindon Crown Court, will serve his sentence at a youth detention centre.

More than 200 staff had to leave the building for three hours while a police sniffer dog team searched the building.

Broad had been employed in the company's customer services division but his contract had come to an end.

He was offered a job in the firm's Heathrow office but turned it down.

'Act of revenge'

Prosecutor Nicola Jennings said the hoax could have been carried out as a "revenge act".

The call was traced by police to the offices of Broad's current employer.

The court heard that Broad had been handed a community order for a similar bomb hoax in 2005 when he left a note in a prayer book in a church in Oxford.

It said: "Please do not pray for the people killed in the October 18 2005 bombings of the Virgin flight arriving in Barbados."

It is thought that hoax was linked to a failed job application with the airline.

Broad had also worked for Gatwick Airport at the time of the July bombings in London.

Broad's defence lawyer said his had a troubled childhood and adolescence but he did not understand why he had carried out the hoaxes.

"He is distraught about these proceedings and apologetic for the trouble he had caused," he said.

Passing sentence, the judge said he would be failing in his duty if he did not hand down a prison sentence.

"You know the likely effect of bomb hoaxes because you had been employed at Gatwick Airport at the time of the July bombings in London," he said.

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