By Laura Hill at York Crown Court
A man has been found guilty of making bomb hoax calls which led to Knaresborough being shut down by armed police last year.
Shamsul Islam, 23, a convicted drug dealer from Leeds said: “I played no part in it,” as he was led away from the dock.
Judge Stephen Ashurst told Islam: “This was an extremely serious series of hoaxes which caused a very considerable degree of distress and risk to other people, not only fear and embarrassment for the men who were suspected to have a part in what was never a bomb plot.”
Prosecution barrister Paul Newcombe claimed Islam was a ‘compulsive liar’, who made fake bomb calls as he had a grudge against staff at
Paragon Pizza in Knaresborough after they unwittingly exposed his brother’s insurance scam to police.
He told the jury: “He has got no problem with lying to police, to him it is just a big joke.”
Islam admitted lying to police when he was stopped in Leeds on October 16 - he claimed to be his brother Habibul Islam and said he lived at Paragon Pizza, where the blue VW Golf he was driving was insured.
When police called the pizza takeaway, they were told that Habibul Islam, 22, did not live at the address - exposing his insurance fraud.
Islam decided to get his revenge on the pizza staff by telling the police they were making a bomb in the hope that they would be picked up by anti-terror officers.
Islam claimed to have been with his girlfriend at the time the hoax calls were made, but his alibi was disproved by phone records.
Mr Newcombe said: “It has just exposed his story as a complete lie as he has had to back track.”
In his defence, Mark Foley said Islam had merely confused the two days of Eid.
The court was played 999 calls and heard the hoax caller say: “I am from this country myself and I am scared.”
The caller added: “They’ve got equipment and everything and today is the day when they are moving it (the bomb) and planting it. They’ve got liquids and it’s going to be getting moved shortly.”
Islam denied making any of the three calls - two to 999 and one to crime stoppers - on October 16.
He told the court: “I never made them calls. I don’t know anything about those calls.”
Mr Foley said that Islam held no grudge against the pizza shop employees after they told police that Habibul Islam did not live at the address.
Forensic voice expert Dr Christin Kirchhübel had told the court that the hoax caller’s voice was consistent with Islam’s voice, with no differences, but said his voice was only moderately distinctive.
Defending, Foley said distinctive features in the caller’s voice were merely his West Yorkshire Asian accent and said: “But you can’t say that it is him (Islam) as many other people may have the same features in their voice.”
However the prosecution said the voice analysis ‘narrowed it down to one’ as it excluded Islam’s brother, Habibal and his friend Sharjon Miah - whose fingerprints were found on the phone used to make hoax calls.
Islam was found guilty of three counts of communicating false information with intent to make the authorities believe that there was a bomb plot.
He had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice in relation to the driving matter at a previous hearing.
At the same hearing, his brother Habibul Islam, of Spencer Place, Leeds, admitted perverting the course of justice and making a false statement to obtain insurance after producing his insurance details to the police to cover his brother’s driving offences and giving a false address - Paragon Pizza - to his insurance company.
Islam will be sentenced on December 9 and faces up to seven years in prison. He is currently serving an eight year sentence for possession of cocaine with intent to supply, possession of cannabis, burglary, dangerous driving and handling stolen property.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS:
October 15: Islam is stopped by police in Leeds while driving his brother’s blue VW Golf. He claimed to be his brother, Habibul Islam, 22, and that he lived at 16 High Street Knaresborough, where the car was insured.
Police called Paragon Pizza and were told Habibul Islam did not work there. Shaslum Islam was cautioned and told to go to Killingbeck Police station the next day with his insurance details.
October 16: 14:46 The first bomb hoax 999 call was made to police lasting 5 minutes and 14 seconds.
14:51 A call is made to crimestoppers alleging that there was a bomb in Paragon Pizza which lasted 14 minutes.
17:33 The final 999 bombhoax call is made lasting 4 minutes and 23 seconds.
Knaresborough is brought to a standstill by armed police as every armed officer in North Yorkshire is sent to deal with the incident.
Innocent staff members at Paragon Pizza were handcuffed and searched by police.
October 17: Islam is arrested in North Leeds for dangerous driving after crashing his brother’s VW golfGolf.
Three mobile phones associated with the bomb hoax phone number were found in the glovebox of the car. Islam also had a quantity of class A drugs in his pocket.