Court fines 'bomb' joke man
A JOKER who sparked the evacuation of a health centre after claiming he had left a bomb in its reception has been fined by magistrates.Gordon Mowatt, from Normandy Close in Stowmarket, admitted breaching the 1986 Public Order Act by his actions, which led to police being called to the town's surgery in Violet Hill Road.
By John Howard
A JOKER who sparked the evacuation of a health centre after claiming he had left a bomb in its reception has been fined by magistrates.
Gordon Mowatt, from Normandy Close in Stowmarket, admitted breaching the 1986 Public Order Act by his actions, which led to police being called to the town's surgery in Violet Hill Road.
Magistrates in Bury St Edmunds heard yesterday that 41-year-old Mowatt had simply been joking and had never intended to alarm anyone on the morning of September 13.
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Ian Devine, prosecuting, said: "He put his rucksack on the chair he had sat on and indicating, said: 'There's a bomb in my bag. It will go off in the next ten minutes'.
"He then walks out for his cigarette. The police were called and the surgery evacuated. The police attended and Mr Mowatt was arrested.
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"There was no bomb in the bag, it was a simple joke, he said. But in the light of heightened terrorist situation we all face, the matter was treated very seriously by all concerned.''
Claire Lockwood, representing Mowatt, said: "The whole incident was a joke. He was in the waiting area at the doctors' surgery, waiting for his appointment.
"He had a rucksack with him and got up to go outside for his cigarette and said 'look after my bomb a minute'.
"He has said that he did say 'I am joking' and he did not intend to alarm anyone, or cause distress, but he accepts that people in the waiting room might not have heard the part where he said it was a joke.''
She told magistrates that Mowatt had explained to the police that the incident was in jest and he had been at the surgery waiting for his appointment.
Mowatt told the court that he never meant to alarm anybody and magistrates heard that he suffers from mental health problems, including schizophrenia and anxiety.
Magistrates told Mowatt they accepted he had been joking, but that the joke had gone horribly wrong and his humour had frightened other people.
He was fined £50 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £43, at the rate of £10 a week for his behaviour.