Wales

Indefinite term for arsonist and bomb hoaxer Paul Jones

Paul Jones
Image caption Paul Jones wanted to be sent to prison 'for a long time'

An arsonist and bomb hoaxer who admitted striking across the UK has been jailed indefinitely.

Hoax calls by Paul William Jones, 33, of Oswestry, Shropshire, forced shopping centres, public buildings and a film studio to be evacuated.

Jones made calls in areas including Blackpool, Stoke and Wrexham, where he was arrested carrying a knife.

At Caernarfon Crown Court, Judge Niclas Parry told him he will only be let out when it is safe to do so.

The judge also gave Jones a further sentence of seven years, six of them for the 11 hoax calls he made, adding that the public "had every reason to be extremely worried" about him.

The court heard that Jones had been jailed for bomb hoaxes twice before, in 2006 and 2009, and well as for five years in 2003 for attempted robbery.

Judge Parry said the defendant had no mental disorder and his offences were premeditated and planned.

When arrested in Wrexham, he was carrying a 10in (25cm) knife, an offence which earned him a year of his seven-year sentence, along with writing a "sinister letter" to one of his arson victims while on remand.

Paulinus Barnes, prosecuting, said Jones had started a fire that had destroyed an unoccupied house in Oswestry worth £275,000 that had been bequeathed to a local hospice.

The land at the burned down site was now worth just £100,000, he said.

Mr Barnes said the defendant had also admitted pushing burning newspaper through the letterbox of a fitness centre at his home town and setting an historic signal box on fire at town's old railway station.

'Protect the public'

His bomb hoaxes led to the evacuation of three public offices and a store in Wrexham, the Hounds Hill Shopping Centre in Blackpool, the Pentagon Shopping Centre in Chatham, Poundland at the Potter's Shopping Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, and Poundland at Bedford.

Jones's hoax calls also led to evacuation of the BBC offices at Portland Place in London, the probation offices at Shrewsbury and the Elstree Film Studios in Hertfordshire.

Stephen Edwards, defending, said his client, who had cerebral palsy, felt that he could not cope outside prison and had acted in the way he did because he wanted to return to jail.

He had confessed to police about the arson attacks and would not have been linked to them unless he had done so, said Mr Edwards.

Mr Edwards said: "He wants to go back into custody for a long period of time."

Judge Parry said Jones was going back to jail "not because of what you want, but because it's necessary to protect the public".