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Herne Bay woman Sonya McCulla taunts police with threat to blow up Canterbury Cathedral, city council offices and magistrates' court

By Sian Napier

A woman sparked a full-scale bomb alert after claiming to have planted explosives at Canterbury Cathedral and other important city buildings.

Hoaxer Sonya McCulla, 51, called police to say she had left devices outside the historic landmark, at the council offices in Military Road, at the magistrates' court and at both the city's railway stations.

During the call – made at 9.38am on July 24 – she said she could detonate the bombs using a mobile phone and that it was the police's job to find them.

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

The hoax sparked a hunt by police for the devices, but none were found.

Detectives then used special technology to trace the phone back to McCulla, who was arrested in Herne Bay.

She was later charged and has now admitted making the hoax call when she appeared at Canterbury Crown Court.

She also pleaded guilty to making a false alarm to the fire service and stealing a Samsung mobile phone from Whitstable between July 22 and July 25.

Judge Adele Williams adjourned sentence for psychiatric and other reports to be prepared.

McCulla was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on October 24.

Canterbury Magistrates' Court
Canterbury Magistrates' Court

Canterbury City Council chief executive Colin Carmichael said: "The council did receive a bomb threat on Thursday 24 July.

"The police were called and their very clear advice was that it was a hoax and that evacuation was not required. We took that advice and did not evacuate.

"We regularly test our evacuation procedures to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. Our most recent test was on Wednesday 30 July and went very smoothly."

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