British teenager jailed for school bomb hoaxes

York Press

York Press

George Duke-Cohan, 19, sparked nationwide panic and a transatlantic investigation from the bedroom of his home in Watford, Hertfordshire. He was sentenced to one year in jail for the school emails and two years for the airport security scare in which the aircraft - with 295 passengers on board - had to be quarantined at San Francisco airport.

Avonbourne Trust has four academies; Avonwood Primary, Avonbourne College, Harewood College and Avonbourne Sixth Form.

George Duke-Cohan, 19, from the village of Garston, near Watford, just north of London, previously pleaded guilty to making three bomb hoaxes, including one in August against a transatlantic United Airlines flight that resulted in all 295 passengers aboard being exhaustively searched by USA police workers after the flight landed.

His first bomb hoax email was prompted by a disagreement with the owners of VeltPvP, a US-based server that allows users to play the game Minecraft.

The scale of what you did was enormous.

Duke-Cohan, from Watford, had admitted making bomb threats to thousands of schools, including a number in Kent.

His emails threatened that an explosive device would be detonated if payment was not made.

They succeeded in causing "alarm and anxiety", and one particular email said: "This is a message to everyone". Whilst still on that course on 31st January 2018, the college received a bomb threat which was taken seriously - 2,500 students and staff had to be evacuated. They warned of impending explosions, saying things like: "The bomb is set to go off in three hours' time if you do not send 5,000 dollars USD".

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Duke-Cohan was arrested within days, but while under investigation in April he sent a further mass email to hundreds of schools in the United Kingdom and the USA claiming that pipe bombs had been planted on the premises.

Marc Horsfall, senior investigating officer with the NCA, said Duke-Cohan had few real friends and spent "a great deal of his time online".

NCA investigators working with the FBI identified that whilst on bail for the threats to schools, Duke-Cohan made bomb threats to the US-bound flight via phone calls to San Francisco Airport and their Bureau police.

Duke-Cohan was annoyed at not being given access to higher levels within the game, the NCA said.

He also said: "I bear in mind that you are to be sentenced for bomb hoaxes and not for any other offences for computer misuse".

Judge Foster also told the court of the massive repercussions which followed Duke-Cohan's plane hijacking hoax in August.

At one point during the mitigation, a woman wept in the public gallery.

"His actions and complete lack of regard for other people caused widespread and unnecessary worry", said Anne McCracken of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

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