Schools bomb hoaxes: Teenager jailed for nationwide threats

George Duke-Cohan 19

It triggered mass evacuations of schools from March earlier this year.

Avonbourne Trust has four academies; Avonwood Primary, Avonbourne College, Harewood College and Avonbourne Sixth Form.

George Duke-Cohan, 19, from the village of Garston, near Watford, just north of London, previously pleaded guilty to making three bomb hoaxes, including one in August against a transatlantic United Airlines flight that resulted in all 295 passengers aboard being exhaustively searched by USA police workers after the flight landed.

You knew exactly what you were doing and why you were doing it, and you knew full well the havoc that would follow.

'You were playing a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities.

His first bomb hoax email was prompted by a disagreement with the owners of VeltPvP, a US-based server that allows users to play the game Minecraft.

North Yorkshire Police worked with the National Crime Agency who found Duke-Cohan made bomb threats to a United Airlines flight travelling from the UK causing the aircraft, part of the airport and 295 passengers to be quarantined when it landed in San Francisco.

NCA senior investigating officer Marc Horsfall said: "George Duke-Cohan made a series of bomb threats that caused serious worry and inconvenience to thousands of people, not least an global airline".

The court heard that one of the emails, sent to a special needs school, read: "This is a message to everyone".

A TEENAGER has been jailed over bogus bomb threats send to schools in Worcestershire and other nationwide.

"The bomb is set to go off in three hours' time". If you do not send the money, we will blow up the device.

Officers recovered multiple electronic devices belonging to him, the use of which was in contravention to the pre-charge bail conditions imposed on him. Duke-Cohan and other Apophis Squad members also attacked the free email service Protonmail, even as all of them continued to use their Protonmail accounts to communicate about the attacks.

But while on bail Duke-Cohan called San Francisco airport posing as the concerned father of a girl on board United Airlines flight UAL 949, claiming hijackers had taken over the flight from Heathrow to San Francisco.

Speaking to an operator, he identified himself as "Mike Sanchez" and said his daughter had called him in a "distressed state" from the plane.

Thousands of pupils from 457 schools who received similar emails were affected causing anxiety and upset, Luton Crown Court was told.

Duke-Cohan was arrested for a third time on 31 August.

The judge said that what Duke-Cohan did was "far removed from anything that could be described as naivety or a cry for help from a sick person".

"Nevertheless, your fascination with computer hacking and your motivation of seeking notoriety is indicative of your high culpability".

For sentencing purposes, the judge accepted a forensic psychiatrist's report which suggested that Duke-Cohan suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, commenting: "T$3 o say that this is an excuse for what you have done is an insult to the many thousands of sufferers who lead law abiding lives".

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