Travel-chaos bomb hoaxer jailed

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The Independent Online

A serial bomb hoaxer who brought chaos to train commuters as part of a hate campaign against police, was jailed for two years and nine months today.

One mainline station was closed, trains were halted and even an "innocent" rubbish bin surrounded during David Treharne's one-month campaign.

The 51-year-old, who was said to have "taken umbrage" at British Transport Police for catching him shoplifting, claimed the IRA had planted devices at Kings Cross, Paddington and Euston stations.

He also claimed bombs had been left in the Houses of Parliament, and a hotel.

London's Southwark Crown Court was told once the hoaxer had hung up he waited for the "reaction" he clearly wanted.

Jurors heard although Paddington was evacuated and services were halted after his first call just before last Christmas, his favourite target was Kings Cross, just round the corned from his Argyle Street home.

In fact he had police rushing to the station on no less than eight occasions, five of them on successive days.

Teresa Hay, prosecuting, said during one of them he insisted they had just 20 minutes before the "bomb" went off.

On another occasion 200 Scotland-bound passengers were kept waiting for half an hour while the area was searched.

Treharne, of Argyle Street, Kings Cross, insisted he was the victim of mistaken identity.

But those trying him took just over an hour at an earlier hearing to unanimously convict him of 11 counts of communicating false information between December 22 2006 and January 20 last year.

Today he admitted three counts of shoplifting at Euston and Kings Cross stations and one of racially-aggravated threatening behaviour towards a manager of one of the shops he targeted.

Imposing a sentence which meant his immediate release because of time already spent on remand, Judge Deborah Taylor told him: "You were found guilty of 11 counts of making hoax bomb calls, saying the IRA had planted bombs.

"On each occasion police and manpower and time was wasted searching.

"On at least two occasions this caused serious disruption and no doubt caused stress and fear to passengers."

The court heard each of his time-wasting and disruptive 999 calls triggered an inevitable "reaction" as up to 10 officers at a time were sent to the various scenes.

"And it was in order to cause a reaction that Mr Treharne made the calls," said counsel.

A "pattern of calls was eventually identified" enabling officers to identify the defendant from CCTV footage at Kings Cross.

He was arrested the following day, minutes after making another hoax call from the station.

A voice expert later compared recordings of the calls with Treharne's voice during his interview and decided he was responsible.

The barrister added: "Mr Treharne took umbrage and was upset by British Transport Police officers.

"That appears to be why the calls he made were targeting mainline stations. That is the link we have made."

Outside court, case officer Detective Constable Mike Ganly welcomed what he regarded as an "appropriate" sentence.

"Bomb hoaxes are a very serious issue with the potential to cause massive disruption and economic harm," he said.

"British Transport Police had a tried and tested system in place for dealing with them so as to cause minimum disruption whilst ensuring public safety.

"Nevertheless, hoaxers waste considerable police time and divert much needed resources from other duties. As in this case, we will always thoroughly investigate bomb hoaxes and push for the maximum penalty against those involved," he added.