Teenager jailed after making bomb threats to thousands of schools and UK bound flight

George Duke-Cohan
George Duke-Cohan

A teenager who made bomb threats to thousands of schools - including some in Derbyshire - has been jailed.

George Duke-Cohan, 19, from Watford in Hertfordshire, appeared at Luton Crown Court today and was jailed for three years after admitting three counts of making bomb threats.

He sent bomb threats that resulted in over 400 schools in the UK being evacuated in March, and also made a bomb threat to a United Airlines flight travelling from the UK to San Francisco.

In April whilst under investigation, he sent a mass email to schools in the UK and the US claiming that pipe bombs had been planted on the premises.

On 9 August, the hacker group known as ‘Apophis Squad’ claimed on their Twitter page that flight UAL 949 had been grounded due to their actions.

National Crime Agency investigators working with the FBI identified that whilst on pre-charge bail for the threats to schools, Duke-Cohan made bomb threats to the US-bound flight via phone calls to San Francisco Airport and their Bureau police.

In a recording of one of the phone calls which was made while the plane was in the air, he takes on the persona of a worried father and claims his daughter contacted him from the flight to say it had been hijacked by gunmen, one of whom had a bomb.

On arrival in San Francisco the plane was the subject of a significant security operation in a quarantined area of the airport. All 295 passengers had to remain on board causing disruption to onward journeys and financial loss to the airline.

In an operation supported by Hertfordshire Police, Duke-Cohan was arrested by NCA officers for the third time at his home in Watford on Friday August 31.

Officers recovered multiple electronic devices belonging to him, the use of which was in contravention to the pre-charge bail conditions imposed on him.

NCA Senior Investigating Officer Marc Horsfall said: “George Duke-Cohan made a series of bomb threats that caused serious worry and inconvenience to thousands of people, not least an international airline.

“He carried out these threats hidden behind a computer screen for his own enjoyment, with no consideration for the effect he was having on others.

“Despite being arrested and having conditions imposed restricting his use of technology, he persistently broke those conditions to continue his wave of violent threats.

“Law enforcement take such offences extremely seriously. The sentence handed down to Duke-Cohan today highlights the consequences of such offending.

“This investigation proves that operating online does not offer offenders anonymity. Duke-Cohan now has a criminal record which will harm his future career prospects and this should act as a deterrent to others.”