A serial hoaxer who got an airport job despite a history of bomb threats has been jailed for triggering security alerts at two UK terminals.
‘Strange’ Robert Boyd-Stevenson, 38, had previously been in prison for two earlier bomb hoaxes and four arson attacks.
But he was given a job as a shuttle bus driver by Holiday Inn, ferrying passengers from one of their hotels to Bristol Airport.
A court heard he sent chilling texts to police saying there were four bombs planted at the airport and Birmingham Airport on last year’s busy August Bank Holiday weekend.
Boyd-Stevenson wrote “the aim is to damage, not kill” before revealing locations and detonation times of his bogus bombs in a series of messages.
He then watched as Bristol Airport suffered two hours of disruption – and even commentated on the response of police and security staff.
Boyd-Stevenson, of Knowle, Bristol, pleaded guilty to communicating false information about a bomb hoax in August and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Neil Treharne, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court how the hoaxes were texted to a PC Payne on his work mobile.
The first at 8.45am read: “To the great British press. We have placed four explosive devices in Airport Bristol and Birmingham. Aim is to damage, not kill.
“To prove our intentions we will send message to confidential police number at Bristol Airport.
“They have two hours. First ones will go off near 11am by bus stops.”
A second message at 10.04am read: “I see from my cameras you at RUP. Will disclose other locations soon. There is only one at airside near Swissport staff.”
A third at 11.48am, read: “You now have one hour, 42 minutes. I email press device pictures and locations. I will be in touch.
“Really sorry for the hurt that will happen.”
A fourth message, at 3.50pm, read: “Putting bags over bins won’t stop me. You are putting people’s lives at risk. If you can find me by airside fence by flying centre.
“Did you get pictures? You won’t stop us. Doubt you have found anything yet as got full signal.”
Mr Treharne said messages were also sent to tabloid newspapers and local radio.
Police quickly discovered that the mobile used to send the messages was a pay-as-you-go phone which had been topped up earlier that day in Knowle West, Bristol.
Boyd-Stevenson was identified from CCTV at the shop and the airport and arrested.
Mr Treharne added: “Boyd-Stevenson was an employee at the Holiday Inn, not too far from Bristol Airport.
“Part of his role was to shuttle customers to and from the airport.
“He was working on Saturday between 7am and 7pm so was in the vicinity when the texts were sent.”
The court heard that although no flights were diverted or cancelled, emergency services deployed to the scene created a lack of cover elsewhere.
David Miller, defending, said his client’s ‘strange personality trait’ had caused him to do what he did.
The court heard Boyd-Stevenson’s previous bomb hoaxes were made at Eastleigh shopping centre and a theatre in Basingstoke, Hants.
Judge Julian Lambert told him: “You are a very troubled soul, with a mind often in turmoil.
“You made communications in the airport itself and there was significant disruption caused.”
Peggy Chan, general manager of Holiday Inn Bristol airport said: “The safety and security of our guests and people is our top priority.
“We have formal security programmes and background checks in place when employing workers at our hotel.
“Despite following all usual background checks at the time of employing this gentleman, we were not made aware of any previous convictions.
“As soon as we were, we took immediate action and he was dismissed. We have since reviewed this process to ensure this doesn’t happen again”