Granddad Plants Fake Bomb In Tesco As Distraction So He Can Steal Booze
James McDonnell put the 'device' - which was comprised of an old mobile phone, a charging lead and a portable charging pack - on a shelf in the Newcastle city centre store, before loading up a bag with £161.50 ($207) worth of gin and whisky.
The 54-year-old was stopped by security, who asked if he had paid for the seven or eight bottles of spirits in his bag, to which he replied: "There's a bomb in your shop."
The store was then evacuated for 45 minutes, costing Tesco between £2,500 ($3,203) and £3,000 ($3,843). However, McDonnell's plan didn't work, as staff simply kept him in a holding area while the supposed bomb was investigated.
McDonnell, from Gateshead, was jailed for 15 months for the bomb hoax and theft of spirits, which took place on 15 January.
Jane Foley, prosecuting, said: "He made his way to aisle nine, the alcohol aisle, and placed a mobile phone device with wires and what looked like a battery pack on the gin shelf.
"He then picked up a bottle of gin and put it in a bag he had taken with him. He then blatantly stole other bottles of alcohol, which were placed in the bag, then left.
"A security officer stopped him to ask if he had paid for the goods and he replied, 'There's a bomb in your shop'.
"He was detained and taken to a holding area and another security officer attended the aisle and saw a silver phone with wires next to some Gordon's pink gin."
When interviewed by police, McDonnell - who has 41 previous convictions, including 17 for theft and dishonesty - denied putting the device on the shelf. He did, however, plead guilty to theft of alcohol.
He told probation he pleaded not guilty to the bomb hoax as a 'political statement' because you 'get no thanks for pleading guilty', but has since accepted responsibility for his actions.
Brian Hegarty, defending, said: "His motive for committing this offence is a need for alcohol, rather than a wish. He has been an alcoholic for many years and this was committed to enable him to drink more.
"It appears he hatched this plan in order to be able to consume yet more alcohol. The device was little more than an old mobile phone attached to a portable charger with a charging wire.
"His hope in saying there's a bomb was that the security staff would go and look for that and he could leave with the seven or eight bottles of whisky and gin he had stolen.
"It was quickly established it was a hoax and it was simply picked up by security staff who quickly established it was nothing sinister at all."
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