Shoplifter James McDonnell jailed after Tesco bomb hoax

Image source, Northumbria Police
Image caption,
James McDonnell has 41 previous convictions

A thief who planted a fake bomb to avoid being arrested for shoplifting has been jailed.

James McDonnell, 54, from Gateshead, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after admitting the hoax.

When security staff in Tesco on Clayton Street, Newcastle accused him of shoplifting he claimed he had planted a bomb, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Northumbria Police said it was not a "very sophisticated" device but would have frightened staff.

Ch Insp Steve Wykes said hoaxes caused a "huge drain on police resources".

"This was not a very sophisticated hoax but nevertheless it would have been a scary moment for staff," he said.

Image source, Northumbria Police
Image caption,
Northumbria Police said the device was "not a very sophisticated hoax"

The court heard McDonnell was caught on the supermarket's CCTV in January while putting bottles of alcohol in a black rucksack.

He tried to run away but, when stopped by security staff, claimed he had left an explosive device in the shop.

A search by staff found a mobile phone with wires coming out of it and connected to a box.

McDonnell, from Appleby Gardens, has 41 previous convictions. He admitted shoplifting and placing a bomb hoax with intent.

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