Highlands & Islands

Teenager's hoax bomb caused evacuation of 32 flats in Fort William

Jack Salter Image copyright Northpix
Image caption Jack Salter built a realistic but not viable device, the court heard

A teenager caused the evacuation of 32 properties at a block of flats in Fort William after building a hoax bomb, Inverness Sheriff Court has heard.

Jack Salter, 18, posted an image of the "bomb" on Facebook.

Army ordnance experts were called and found that Salter's creation was not a viable explosive, but looked realistic to the untrained eye.

Salter, of Fort William, was dealing with his father's death at the time, the court heard.

Sheriff Margaret Neilson ordered Salter to be detained for 16 months after he admitted behaving in a threatening manner by exhibiting a device that looked like a bomb on 19 June last year.

The sheriff said: "I accept that at the time you were at a very difficult stage of your life and not coping well.

"But the charge is of such gravity that no other disposal other than a custodial one is appropriate."

'Stable relationship'

Solicitor Hamish Melrose pleaded with the sheriff not to impose a period of detention, saying: "He acknowledges the consequences of what he did - inconvenience is too light a word.

"He was having difficulty coming to terms with his father's death but that is no longer the case. Just a week before he died, he had to perform CPR on his dad to bring him back around.

"At one stage it was very difficult to get anything out of him, but he is in a stable relationship now and has plans to go to college."

Mr Melrose added: "He gave police a very emotional interview and a doctor had to be present. It was put to him that he had done this to get help and he agreed.

"It was not a viable device but gave the impression of being one. That is what he wanted. He put it on Facebook and advertised it in effect."

However, the solicitor conceded that Salter also told police the incident "was just so the cops didn't lift me at the weekend" for road traffic offences.

Deodorant canister

Procurator fiscal Roderick Urquhart showed Sheriff Neilson Salter's Facebook page with an image of the hoax bomb which had been made at the flat where he was staying at the time.

It was constructed from two gas cylinders, a golf club, a scarf and a deodorant canister.

Police and firefighters were called before an Army ordnance disposal team was sent north from its base in Edinburgh.

Mr Urquhart said the call-out left the Army with a "lesser-equipped standby truck" to cover the whole of Scotland for a period of eight hours.

The fiscal said the military personnel established that it was not a viable advice, but "the set-up of it created a visual effect such that it would appear viable to the untrained eye".

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