Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Boy, 17, charged over M3 closure facing further charges

M3 closure
Image caption The motorway was closed for 11 hours after a substance was thrown from a bridge

A 17-year-old boy accused of dropping flammable material on to the M3, causing it to shut, has also been accused of blackmail, a court heard.

The teenager, from Winchester, appeared at Basingstoke Youth Court over incidents on 16 and 23 September.

He is accused of two counts of arson with intent to endanger life and two of causing danger to road users.

He is also accused of two charges of blackmailing a school demanding payments of £10,000 in bitcoin.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of eight offences of burglary at a school involving the theft of computer equipment. And he faces two charges of theft from a Tesco supermarket.

He was remanded to youth detention until a hearing on 11 October at Winchester Crown Court.

Image copyright Simon Read
Image caption Bomb disposal experts were called to the scene on 23 September

The discovery of a partly-ignited substance, dropped from a bridge on 23 September, led to military bomb disposal experts being called to the motorway near Winchester and its closure for 11 hours.

The substance was later discovered to be flammable but not explosive.

On 16 September there was a similar incident on the same bridge, which leads to St Catherine's Hill.

James Burnham, prosecuting, described the items as incendiary devices and said the impact of the closure would have led to a cost of millions of pounds.

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