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Pensioner jailed over hoax bomb plot

Esqulant is starting a three year sentence Credit: Kent Police

A 'desperate' pensioner who left a fake bomb in a Sevenoaks bank has been jailed for 3 years and 4 months.

Reginald Esqulant planted a package inside a Santander premises which he claimed would be detonated unless he was given cash.

A court heard the debt-ridden pensioner was facing mounting debts, and wanted the manager to know how it felt to get a threatening letter.

The 74-year-old walked into the High Street branch at around 12.45pm on 8 February, 2016.

He left a written note demanding money be left in an area close by, threatening failure to do so would result in the use of an explosive device.

Esqulant was caught on camera with the 'device' Credit: Kent Police

Esqulant then left the package in the centre of the bank and exited the building.

Instructions were left in the note not to contact police or for staff or members of public to be moved from the premises.

Police were called and large parts of the town centre were closed as a cordon was put in place.

A Ministry of Defence bomb disposal unit then carried out a controlled explosion on the suspect package.

Analysis of the item later showed it contained a portion of a coloured paving slab within a hessian bag.

The bomb threat letter sent to bank staff Credit: Kent Police

Esqulant was arrested at his home in Fawkham Road, West Kingsdown the following day after a VW Golf he had used to travel to the crime scene was identified by police.

It belonged to an acquaintance who had lent the vehicle to Esqulant, but who had no knowledge of his criminal intentions.

A search of the car uncovered a pair of plastic gloves which Esqulant had worn in the bank.

Further evidence included samples of printed handwriting found in his house which matched handwriting on the demand note.

A broken portion of a paving slab found outside his home also matched the portion of slab found in the package.

The 'bomb' was a paving slab in a bag Credit: Kent Police

Appearing at Maidstone Crown Court Esqulant pleaded not guilty to blackmail, having admitted a separate charge of causing a bomb hoax.

Following a trial, he was found guilty by a jury of blackmail as well as offences of taking a motor vehicle without consent and driving while disqualified.