Tyne & Wear

Gateshead teen Connor Ash sent hoax threats to US police

Connor Ash Image copyright Durham Police
Image caption Ash claimed he had weapons including an assault rifle

A teenager sent hoax emails to US police forces claiming he would shoot hostages and kill officers, a court heard.

Connor Ash, from Gateshead, also warned he would kill a detective who was investigating his offending.

The 18-year-old had admitted making electronic communications with intent to cause distress and anxiety and a charge of making threats to kill.

At Durham Crown Court, he was given a suspended 16-month jail sentence.

Working as part of a gang known as The Goon Squad, his messages were sent between February and October 2017 when Ash, of Johnson Street, Dunston, was 16.

He claimed he had an assault rifle and would kill his hostages if police did not meet his demands for money.

In one email, he warned he was approaching a police station heavily armed.

'Terrifying consequences'

The court heard he also helped to arrange "swatting" attacks, whereby hoax calls would see armed response units turn up at the homes of innocent civilians.

"Amid a wave of gun violence in the US, these threats were seen as both serious and credible by law enforcement agencies," said Diane Spence, of the Crown Prosecution Service.

She added he had "committed these offences, at least in part, for his own amusement and showed little regard for the terrifying consequences that his actions would create".

One parent described hearing about a potential attack on their child's school and being so afraid that she drove there in tears in an effort to find her.

When interviewed by police, Ash claimed some pupils had encouraged him online to target their schools simply in order to get them out of lessons.

His jail term was suspended for two years. He must also undertake 300 hours of unpaid work and be subject to a curfew.

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