Cornwall

'Cruel' Super Bowl and schools' bomb hoaxer jailed

Andreas Dowling Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Andreas Dowling admitted 30 counts of communicating false information with intent at a previous hearing

A computer enthusiast who made 107 hoax bomb threats to targets including schools, the Palace of Westminster and the Super Bowl, has been jailed.

Andreas Dowling from Torpoint, Cornwall admitted 30 counts of communicating false information with intent.

He was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court to four years and five months.

Judge Mrs Justice May said the 24-year-old's actions were "pernicious and nasty" and calls targeting Jewish schools were racially motivated.

Dowling made threats to about 70 schools in the UK, affecting more than 44,000 pupils, and various locations in the US and Canada.

He was fascinated by computers from the age of six and studied network and software development at Cornwall College. The court was told he also had a good knowledge of security systems.

His motivations varied and included racism, punishing the US Government for perceived corruption, and closing schools for pupils in return for payment, the court heard.

He lived with his mother and used software to disguise his voice.

'Extreme anxiety'

In 2015 he made repeated bomb threats to the Super Bowl in Arizona but the event went ahead.

The following year he targeted the Palace of Westminster - his only non-education target in the UK - saying a bomb was attached to a parked vehicle and there was 30 minutes to evacuate, but it was correctly identified as a hoax.

The court heard Jewish schools were "over-represented" as targets in the UK-based hoaxes and were selected "based on racial or religious identity of the students".

The prosecution said threats to the Jewish schools referred to bombs going off at "4.20pm", which was a reference to Adolf Hitler's birthday of April 20.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice May said: "One has only to imagine the extreme anxiety head teachers must have felt receiving news of a bomb threat and how pernicious and cruel it was to make those calls".

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