Former Devon policeman praises force's reaction to bomb

A former senior Devon police officer who was in charge after a suicide bomb attempt in Exeter said he was proud of the force's response.

Former Assistant Chief Constable Bob Spencer said the May 2008 attack was "one of the most serious incidents that we will ever have to deal with".

Muslim convert Nicky Reilly, 23, was jailed for 18 years for the attack on the Giraffe restaurant.

He is now being treated at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.

Reilly, from Plymouth, tried to blow up the restaurant by detonating bombs in bottles filled with nails.

He was the only person injured as the device went off in a toilet cubicle.

ACC Spencer, speaking for the first time since the attack, said the procedures used by Devon and Cornwall Police were now used by forces around the country.

"We knew the eyes of the world were going to be watching," he said. "We had to make sure it was a really well run incident and exceed expectations of the public and I think that is what we did. We are very proud of how we handled it."

He added: "Thankfully it's very rare that we have to deal with them."

Reilly is believed to have been in contact with two militants via the internet.

ACC Spencer said Reilly's radicalisation led to the government updating its counter-terrorism strategy to focus more on preventing the radicalisation of Muslims.

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