Hoax bomb threat bridegroom is jailed in Liverpool

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Media captionNeil McArdle realised his error the day before he was due to marry at St George's Hall

A would-be bridegroom who made a hoax bomb threat to a wedding venue after realising he had failed to confirm his booking has been jailed.

Neil McArdle, 36, of Medbourne Crescent, Liverpool, realised his error the day before he was due to marry at St George's Hall in the city in April.

Rather than tell fiancee Amy Williams, he made a bomb-threat call from a phone box, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

He was given a 12-month jail sentence after admitting making the hoax call.

'No laughing matter'

McArdle could not face telling Miss Williams, the "love of his life", that the big day "that was all she talked about" was not going to happen, the court heard.

So as she got dressed on the morning of the wedding he slipped out of the house, went to a phone box and, disguising his voice, told the receptionist at Liverpool Register Office, which is part of St George's Hall: "This is not a hoax call.

"There's a bomb in St George's Hall and it will go off in 45 minutes."

The call, 11 days after the Boston Marathon bombing, provoked "terror" and the building was immediately evacuated and emergency services called.

Miss Williams was left standing outside in her wedding dress with her mother and the rest of the wedding party.

Image caption Liverpool's St George's Hall was evacuated following the bomb threat

But his would-be in-laws were already suspicious, the court heard, and a row broke out with Miss Williams's sister telling a "flustered" McArdle: "You probably done the bomb scare yourself."

Police quickly traced the call and McArdle was arrested the same day, admitting to his "embarrassment and shame" that he panicked and staged the bomb scare after bungling the wedding booking forms.

He later pleaded guilty to communicating false information about a bomb hoax.

Miss Williams has stood by the defendant, the court heard, and they are still together.

Barrister Charles Lander, mitigating, said: "If it wasn't so serious the facts of this case have all the markings of a comedy."

However, he said McArdle realised this was "no laughing matter".

Judge Norman Wright said it was an "extremely serious" case, with custody the only appropriate sentence.

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