English Defence League 'took Bristol bomb threat seriously'

A threat to bomb an English Defence League (EDL) demonstration was taken "very seriously", a volunteer for the organisation has told a jury.

Sakander Mahmood, 26, admits sending the right-wing group a hoax message through their website but told arresting officers it was "just for a laugh", Sheffield Crown Court heard.

The message he sent read: "14th July in Bristol, You are getting bombed."

Mr Mahmood, of Firth Park, Sheffield, denies communicating a bomb hoax.

Helen Gower, the personal assistant of EDL leader Tommy Robinson, told the court she was "very distressed" when the email was forwarded to her on 11 July last year - the day after Mr Mahmood sent it.

Nail bomb

Asked how seriously the organisation took the threat, Mrs Gower said: "Very seriously."

Mrs Gower said she was concerned because the style of the email was similar to that used by Muslim hacking groups who had previously attacked the EDL website.

She said she also feared for EDL supporters due to gather in Bristol.

Mrs Gower was asked about news reports of a car stopped on the M1 a week or so before the email was received.

The car reportedly contained a nail bomb intended for use against the EDL.

Mrs Gower said the organisation decided bomb threats should always be reported to police after the incident on the M1.

Earlier, Samuel Green, prosecuting, told the court Mahmood told police who came to his home: "Yes. Hands up. Just for a laugh. They've got a march. I've put on a bomb threat."

'Inconvenience and panic'

He said the defendant claimed he got the idea for the bomb threat after he saw a news item about the bomb found in a car on the motorway.

He told the jury there was no suggestion the defendant was connected in any way to the motorway incident.

Mr Green told the jury it was irrelevant whether they agreed with the EDL and said the issue they had to decide was Mr Mahmood's state of mind when he sent the email.

He said the defendant must have realised the message would cause "fear, inconvenience and panic".

Mr Green said: "The only rationale and adequate explanation for sending such a message is to make the reader think it's real and there's a bomb that's going to be exploded in a few days' time."

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

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