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Burton mum jailed for four months following bomb hoax

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 20, 2014

By Matthew Cobb

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A BURTON mum who told social services that there was a bomb outside their building has been jailed for four months.

Karen Burke, 45, of Princess Street, wept as she was taken into custody at Burton Magistrates' Court after admitting staging the hoax on May 9.

The court was told that Burke was known to social services and had 'caused numerous problems' over the past four years before making the threat and telling staff that they must evacuate the building following the phone call.

Emma Thompson, prosecuting, said the alarm was raised when one member of staff, Vivien Phillips, took the call not knowing it to be from Burke, who was asking to speak to the manager.

She said: "She told them the manager was in a meeting and would call back. The defendant said there was a bomb under the bin outside the building. She immediately went into the meeting and told the manager, Kerry Oddy.

"When she realised that it was the defendant on the other end of the phone she did not take the threats seriously."

Magistrates were told that Burke also made threats to kill members of staff during the phone that it was intended as a prank to 'wind up' the social services team.

However despite this, police were called to the premises, although fire and bomb disposal crews were not alerted.

The court was told that throughout her previous meetings with social services, Burke had acted in an aggressive manner to other members of staff and was often uncooperative.

Defending, Michael Taylor told magistrates that while he acknowledged the seriousness of the offence, Burke was in need of help.

She had ongoing mental health issues and a custodial sentence would mean that she would not be able to receive the help and support she required, Mr Taylor added..

He said: "If you take away her liberty then she will not be able to get the help that she requires. She does not use drugs and rarely drinks alcohol.

"When she took the call, Kerry Oddy knew what to expect but that does not excuse the seriousness of the offence."

In sentencing, magistrates told Burke that the offence was so serious that staff could not determine whether or not it was a false alarm or a genuine threat.

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