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Bluewater bomber’ is JAILED

PUBLISHED: 10:31 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2010

A FORMER teacher has been jailed for a year for threatening to blow up Bluewater shopping centre. Saeed Ghafoor, 33, from Southampton, said he was going to bomb the complex using limousines with gas canister explosives, the Old Bailey heard on Friday. H

A FORMER teacher has been jailed for a year for threatening to blow up Bluewater shopping centre.

Saeed Ghafoor, 33, from Southampton, said he was going to bomb the complex using limousines with gas canister explosives, the Old Bailey heard on Friday.

He made the threat to a prison officer at Haverigg jail in Cumbria but later said he thought the shopping centre was in Exeter.

Ghafoor pleaded guilty last month to threatening to cause criminal damage and was jailed when he re-appeared for sentencing.

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith told him: "No reason has been advanced by you as to why you behaved in this extraordinary way.

"Whether it was a desire simply to seek attention or a plan in your mind to do something dreadful, the court will never know."

Bluewater shopping centre was the target for a gang of terrorists led by Omar Khyam, who were jailed for a fertiliser bomb plot last year.

Ghafoor was serving a 12-month sentence imposed by Southampton Crown Court in January for threats to kill his sister and assault, when he made the threat.

After being released on licence in March, he was arrested and taken to Carlisle police station, where he was questioned and charged.

Defending Kate Cornell said: "It is an offence purely of words. There is no evidence to show there was any intent, means or know-how to carry out this threat. If he had intended to carry it out, he would not have told the prison officer."

The court had previously heard that the first prison officer he spoke to formed the impression that Ghafoor was a "fantasist" but took the threat seriously.

Senior prison officer Dawn Pugh then went to see him and he told her: "I am planning to bomb Bluewater shopping centre in Exeter."

Another prison officer had pointed out that Bluewater was in Kent. Ghafoor told him: "The plan is not finalised yet."

He said he was protesting at the involvement of British and American troops in Afghanistan.

Ghafoor was also seen by the prison imam, who formed the impression that he was susceptible to brainwashing. Prosecutor Pierce Arnold said Ghafoor's licence to teach had been revoked.

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