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Briton rapped for hoax bomb call on Indian High Commission

world Updated: Jun 27, 2010 19:07 IST

An inebriated Briton who made a hoax call to amuse himself that a bomb was about to explode outside the Indian High Commission here has been penalised but spared a prison sentence.

Stephen Ridout, 44, admitted during a trial at the Bournemouth Crown Court that he made two bogus emergency calls on the evening of October 8 last year.

An unemployed person, Ridout is a resident of Witchampton in East Dorset.

Ridout made the two calls within minutes of each other to the emergency number 999, but the call handler quickly realised the situation and calmly handled the call without triggering an emergency response.

The court imposed a 12-month community order and told Ridout to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Prosecuting lawyer Jenny Rickman said Ridout's mobile phone number had been "very familiar" to Dorset police after he had made numerous calls from 2007.

She said: "On this occasion he made two calls, within minutes of each other, indicating that a bomb had been placed outside the Indian mission in London and was ready to explode. It was apparent from the call handler's attitude he was not taken in by it at any stage. He told Ridout he was going to terminate the call and there was no emergency response."

In Ridout's defence, lawyer Robert Griffiths said his client had been drunk but later accepted his conduct had been "unacceptable".

Griffiths added: "It was an act of foolishness and he couldn't remember anything about it. He was drunk at home and feeling isolated; to amuse himself he decided to dial 999. The very experienced control room operator recognised it wasn't a serious threat."

Sentencing Ridout, Judge John Harrow told him: "In the present climate there are high levels of anxiety about bombs and explosions. This was reckless, feckless behaviour; it was irresponsible. It is your good fortune that the operator decided this was a hoax. If it had been taken seriously you would be facing a prison sentence; probably a lengthy one."