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Supermarket bomb hoaxer jailed for five years

Stewart Nightingale was jailed for five years for threatening to blow up a supermarket in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Norfolk Police

A man who phoned a superstore threatening to blow it up with a bomb he said he'd left in a bag was today jailed for five years.

43-year-old Stewart Nightingale from Great Yarmouth made the call to Tesco in March 2015.

Stewart Nightingale said he had a bomb in a bag in his trolley when he threatened staff at Tesco. Credit: Norfolk Police

Nightingale directed a store manager Susan Crowe to where the bag was and she was shocked to see a shoebox with wires coming from it and a mobile phone.

He warned her he would detonate it if she tried to evacuate the store in Yarmouth's Pasteur Road.

He then told the general manager that if money wasn't left in a bag into the town within 15 minutes, the bomb would go off.

Although staff believed the bomb to be genuine, bomb disposal experts from Colchester discovered it to be a hoax.

The Tesco store manager was directed to a bag containing a shoe box with wires coming out of it. Credit: Norfolk Police

Nightingale called Tesco claiming he had left a bag of shopping in the supermarket and made the bomb threat when he was put through direct to the Great Yarmouth store.

Click below to hear the telephone call which was released by police in an effort to catch the caller

Click below to watch a video report from ITV News Anglia's Malcolm Robertson

At an earlier hearing, Nightingale had admitted making a bomb hoax and blackmail.

His barrister Jonathan Goodman said the plan was doomed to failure. "At a time of heightened security, such incidents can cause trauma and concern," he said.

The court was told Nightingale had 112 previous offences, mainly for theft and fraud.

Judge Anthony Bate told him these latest offences were stupid and poorly planned, but it was disturbing the way he'd led Miss Crowe to the device, convincing her it was real.

A 100-metre exclusion zone was put in place around the supermarket following the bomb threat. Credit: ITV News Anglia

When police officers were called to the supermarket on 6 March 2015 a 100 metre cordon was put in place around the scene to ensure the public’s safety.

Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal officers were deployed to the scene and safely disposed of the item.

Norfolk Police launched a investigation which included the release of CCTV images and audio of the phone call made. It resulted in Nightingale being arrested on 27 April 2015.

Police released CCTV and audio of the phone call in an effort to track down Nightingale. Credit: Norfolk Police

"It’s astonishing to think the irresponsibility of someone who would make a hoax threat about a bomb in a popular, busy supermarket.

"Hoax bomb threats are not victimless crimes; they can create fear and disruption to the community and also require a significant amount of resource from emergency services.

"The sentence handed to Nightingale today underlines the seriousness of deliberately wasting police time and taking resources away from legitimate demands. We will always seek to prosecute where appropriate and I hope this case acts as a warning to others.”

– Detective Constable Kevin Maskell, Norfolk Police

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