Teenager gets three years after sending hoax emails to schools in Oldham

Blanche Robertson
December 8, 2018

Schools in the county were among hundreds evacuated across the country when 19-year-old George Duke-Cohan sent out malicious messages on two occasions earlier this year.

Avonbourne Trust has four academies; Avonwood Primary, Avonbourne College, Harewood College and Avonbourne Sixth Form.

Duke-Cohan, from Watford, Hertfordshire, was arrested by NCA officers for the third time, and admitted three counts of making hoax bomb threats at Luton Magistrates' Court in September.

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 game for your own perverted sense of fun in full knowledge of the consequences".

The scale of what you did was enormous.

A teenager who made bogus bomb threats that triggered the evacuation of more than 400 schools has been jailed for three years.

The court heard that one of the emails, sent to a special needs school, read: "This is a message to everyone". Duke-Cohan and his crew modeled themselves after the actions of the Lizard Squad, another group of e-fame seeking online hoodlums who also ran a DDoS-for-hire service, called in bomb threats to airlines, DDoSed this Web site repeatedly and whose members were almost all subsequently arrested and charged with various cybercrimes.

"The point is that when you put the school on lockdown this student will set off the bomb, and will kill EVERY student in the room and maybe the rooms next to it", he said in an email, adding: "Natural selection is coming and we plan on being the ones to start it off".

At the same time, authorities in the U.K. and US discovered that Duke-Cohan was responsible for falsely reporting the hijack of a plane bound for the United States.

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Prosecutor Rebecca Austin said it was "clear" that Duke-Cohan used the influence of the Columbine attack of 1999 to add "authenticity".

But while on bail Duke-Cohan called San Francisco airport posing as the concerned father of a girl on board United Airlines flight UAL 949, claiming hijackers had taken over the flight from Heathrow to San Francisco.

NCA investigators working with the FBI identified that whilst on bail for the threats to schools, Duke-Cohan made bomb threats to the US-bound flight via phone calls to San Francisco Airport and their Bureau police.

A tweet sent after the plane landed included the words "9/11 remake".

The teenager was sentenced to one year for the emails sent to schools and two years for the airport security scare.

Duke-Cohan was arrested for a third time on 31 August.

"Law enforcement take such offences extremely seriously".

Judge Foster said that, for the purposes of sentencing, he accepted Duke-Cohan had autism spectrum disorder.

Dr Tim Rogers, the psychiatrist, found in his report on Duke-Cohan that the teenager "alluded to ordinarily hidden feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation that had given rise to fantasies of (and a search for) success, power, acclaim from prominent hackers and the achievement of wider online notoriety".

Anne McCracken, from the CPS, said of Duke-Cohan: "His actions and complete lack of regard for other people caused widespread and unnecessary worry".

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