South West Wales

Swansea Quadrant Centre bomb hoaxer Richard Punchard jailed

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Media captionPolice arrested Richard Punchard shortly after the device was found by a cleaner

A man who planted a fake bomb at a Swansea shopping centre has been jailed for 16 months.

Richard Punchard, 21, of Swansea, left the hoax device at the Quadrant Shopping Centre in May, two days after the Manchester Arena terror attack.

It was found by a cleaner who raised the alarm and led to the evacuation of the complex and surrounding shops.

Punchard previously admitted placing an imitation explosive device with intent at Swansea Crown Court.

Image caption Richard Punchard was arrested after running away from the shopping centre
Image copyright Twitter/Rhys Williams
Image caption The Quadrant Shopping Centre and nearby shops were closed for three hours after being evacuated

The court heard Punchard made the fake device using a wooden jewellery box and old computer parts.

After sitting on a bench outside the city's Debenhams store, he took it out of a rucksack and placed it under his seat.

Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Richard Punchard was described as a loner

He was arrested after two police officers saw he matched the description of a man seen running off from the Quadrant.

At the time, security had been heightened to "critical" following the Manchester attack when 22 people were killed after an Ariana Grande concert.

At a previous court hearing, Punchard was described as a "loner" whose only friends were people he met online while playing computer game Call of Duty.

Robin Rouch, defending, said Punchard's actions were not borne out of an affinity towards any group or organisation.

Instead, he said they were a "cry for help" in a bid to obtain medical support.

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