Royal bomb hoaxer jailed

Embargoed to 0001 Monday May 16''File photo dated 01/08/1997 of the Royal Yacht Britannia as the Duke of Edinburgh has criticised the decision to decommission the vessel, which was taken out of service after 43 years. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday May 16, 2011. . Interviewed by broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh to mark his 90th birthday, the Duke is asked what his feelings were when the yacht was decommissioned. He answers: "Sad." Asked if he thought it was the right thing to do, he replies: "No." See PA story ROYAL Philip. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Embargoed to 0001 Monday May 16''File photo dated 01/08/1997 of the Royal Yacht Britannia as the Duke of Edinburgh has criticised the decision to decommission the vessel, which was taken out of service after 43 years. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday May 16, 2011. . Interviewed by broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh to mark his 90th birthday, the Duke is asked what his feelings were when the yacht was decommissioned. He answers: "Sad." Asked if he thought it was the right thing to do, he replies: "No." See PA story ROYAL Philip. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

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A BOMB hoaxer who threatened to “blow up” the Royal Yacht Britannia in a series of booze-fuelled phone calls has been jailed.

Castleford man James Laurie, 41, made five “rambling” phone calls to a security officer on board the Queen’s former vessel – now a visitors’ centre in Edinburgh – telling him he hated the royal family and was going to “blow up the ship”.

Jailing him for four months at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, the Recorder of Leeds Judge Peter Collier QC said: “These threats weren’t taken seriously, but on the other hand they couldn’t be ignored – and they weren’t ignored.”

Michael Smith, prosecuting, told the court Glasgow-born Laurie made his first call to the yacht – which was decomissioned in 1997 after 44 years in royal service – at around 5.20am on March 4.

A security officer answered the phone and after a “rambling” conversation, Laurie told him: “I’m going to blow up the ship.”

Mr Smith said: “The security officer didn’t react and asked the caller his name. He said he was called Jimmy.”

In subsequent calls, made over five hours, Laurie said he “hated the English and the royal family” – but also chatted about football and asked if he could “book a cruise”.

In his final phone call, at around 10.20am, Laurie said he was trying to “wind up” the security officer and when asked if he was serious about his bomb threat, replied: “What am I going to do, blow it up with a box of matches?”

The court heard the yacht – berthed in Leith – was closed when Laurie made his first phone call and was not affected by the threat.

Mr Smith added: “Two frankly routine searches were made.”

Later that day, police in West Yorkshire arrested Laurie at his Hunt Street home and seized a pink mobile phone. He told officers he didn’t mean the threats.

Laurie admitted communicating false information about a bomb at Pontefract Magistrates’ Court last month and was committed to crown court for sentence.

Michael Greenhalgh, mitigating, said Laurie – who has a previous conviction for drunk and disorderly behaviour – had a problem with drink and had suffered from depression.

He added: “He was being inept and wasn’t taken seriously.”

The barrister asked if the judge would consider imposing a community order with a requirement to carry out unpaid work, but he said: “The Court of Appeal has made it clear that only custody is appropriate for bomb hoax offences.”