Teenage hacker who sent bomb threats to schools in Norfolk and Suffolk jailed
A teenager has been jailed after making bogus bomb threats to hundreds of UK schools, including in Norfolk and Suffolk, and sparking an airport security scare.
George Duke-Cohan twice targeted schools in the UK and US with hoax messages that triggered evacuations, before phoning in a fake report of a hijacked aircraft while under investigation.
The 19-year-old, of Watford, emailed Marlborough College - the Wiltshire school attended by the Duchess of Cambridge - and referred to the Columbine High School shooting.
He was jailed for three years by Judge Richard Foster at Luton Crown Court on Friday.
The Recorder of Luton told him: “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. You were playing a game for your own perverted sense of fun in full knowledge of the consequences.”
In his sentencing remarks, the judge added: “The scale of what you did was enormous. Schools were evacuated and, where they were not, those in charge had to take agonising decisions.
“The passengers and crew on that flight on August 9 must have been terrified when their plane was taken to a quarantined area, and, apart from the financial cost, the onward travelling plans and connecting flights would have been in disarray.”
The teenager appeared from custody wearing a grey jumper with a navy collar.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of making hoax bomb threats in September.
Duke-Cohan, who was doing an IT course, first created panic in March 2018 when he emailed thousands of schools in the UK warning about an explosive.
Prosecutor Rebecca Austin said he sent emails to more than 1,700 schools in the UK between March 16 and 19 this year. Norfolk police said at the time they had received 16 reports of ‘malicious hoax communications’.
The emails, sent to a variety of schools including those that cater for children with special educational needs, threatened to set off an explosive device if payment was not made.
Anya Lewis, mitigating for Duke-Cohan, described him as “vulnerable” and “remorseful”.