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Groom jailed for 12 months over bomb hoax

McArdle has been jailed for 12 months Photo: PA Images

A panicked groom who staged a bomb hoax on his wedding day so his bride would not find out he bungled the booking has been jailed for 12 months.

Neil McArdle had forgotten to fill in the forms to marry the "love of his life" Amy Williams, but could not face telling her that the big day "that was all she talked about" was not going to happen.

Instead of saying "we need to talk" the 36-year-old tried to "weasel" out of his predicament, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

As his bride got ready for her wedding he slipped out of their house in Kirkby, Merseyside, went to a phone box, disguised his voice and rang Liverpool Register Office, claiming: "This is not a hoax call. There's a bomb in St George's Hall and it will go off in 45 minutes."

The call, 11 days after the Boston Marathon bombing, provoked "terror" at the office inside the neo-classical edifice of St George's Hall in the centre of Liverpool, which was immediately evacuated and emergency services called.

Miss Williams was left standing outside in her wedding dress with her mother and the rest of the wedding party as the area swarmed with police racing to the scene.

But his would-be in-laws were already suspicious, the court heard, and a row broke out with Miss Williams's sister telling a "flustered" McArdle: "You probably done the bomb scare yourself."

Police quickly traced the call and the defendant was arrested the same day and admitted to his "embarrassment and shame" that he panicked over bungling the forms and staged the bomb scare.

Miss Williams has stood by the defendant, the court heard, and they are still together.

A tearful McArdle, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a single charge of communicating false information with intent on April 26, was jailed for 12 months by Judge Norman Wright.

Derek Jones, prosecuting, told the court for "whatever reason" the necessary paperwork was not completed by McArdle.

"This defendant knew the wedding was not going to take place at St George's Hall on that day.

"However his fiancee and her family and his family believed it would.

"So at 9am on the morning of the wedding he went to a phone box around the corner from his home address and rang through to St George's Hall.

"He stated: 'this is not a hoax call, there's a bomb in St George's Hall. It will go off in 45 minutes'."

Just days after the Boston bombing the call was taken seriously.

"The building was evacuated," Mr Jones continued.

"You then have the bizarre situation where the defendant and his fiancee and her family, that's the wedding party, descend on St George's Hall and were standing outside, Miss Williams in her wedding dress with the other people who had been evacuated."

Forty five minutes later the all clear was given and a member of staff at the Hall went to help the wedding party with their "delayed" ceremony.

But he spotted a "heated conversation" with the bride's sister saying to the groom: "You probably done the bomb scare yourself!"

"Both appeared to be flustered and appeared to be arguing," Mr Jones added.

McArdle had also used his mobile to call the venue after his initial call - he later told police to call off the hoax.

His mobile phone was registered at his home address and he was arrested at 4pm that day.

Mr Jones added: "He realised the day before the wedding was not going to take place and because he did not want to let his fiancee down or (he was too) embarrassed to tell his family, he panicked in the morning and rang St George's Hall.

"He was hoping all weddings would be postponed and it would give him time to book the wedding in the future.

"He did say several times how embarrassed and ashamed he was and how sorry he was."