A blackmailer who sparked a huge police operation after planting a fake bomb in a supermarket is behind bars today.
David Williams, 48, was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court after planting the suspicious package and then demanding £10,000 from the store.
The huge bomb alert kicked off just before midday on December 10 last year, when Williams, formerly of Knaves Acre, Headcorn, called Morrisons in St Saviours Way, Maidstone.
He claimed to have planted several devices in the store and said £10,000 should be taken to Headcorn railway station.
If they didn't believe them, he said, they should check aisle 23 of the store.
Staff at the store checked the aisle and found a box behind some jars of beetroot.
The cardboard box was found to contain a plastic box with a flashing light attached.
The store and its petrol station were evacuated and the army’s explosive ordnance disposal team was called.
CCTV showed a man entering the Morrisons store earlier that day and buying a Morrisons own-brand Christmas card.
"Trying to blackmail a business or individual is a very serious offence" - DI Lee Whitehead
After Williams was identified as the suspect his house was searched and officers recovered the same Christmas card, addressed to his partner.
Williams was charged with blackmail and was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.
He initially denied the charge, but changed his plea at court.
Detective Inspector Lee Whitehead from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "This incident caused a lot of unnecessary concern for innocent people; financial loss to the business involved and took up a significant amount of police resources.
"Trying to blackmail a business or individual is a very serious offence and I’m pleased that the courts have punished Williams with a custodial sentence."