A G4S employee who sent an anonymous letter threatening to blow up vans and demanding £1m from the firm apologised to colleagues from court before being detained for two years for blackmail.
Daniel Garland, 20, caused work to halt at a cash-handling depot in Thornaby, Teesside, when he posted the note in January saying he had planted remotely controlled “mini-bombs” on vehicles.
More than 100 police officers joined a major inquiry across four force areas, cash-in-transit vans were recalled to the depots to be searched and the security giant’s losses were put at £15,000. The police operation was estimated to have cost £35,000.
Garland, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, had pleaded guilty to a bomb-hoax charge and was convicted after trial of a blackmail offence.
Before he was sentenced to two years in a young offenders institution, Garland read out a letter via videolink from prison.
“I would like to express my heartfelt apologies to the crown, members of G4S, the police and any individuals that might have been affected by my mindless and thoughtless actions,” he said.
Sentencing Garland at Durham crown court, the recorder, Euan Duff, said: “We live in an age when bombs which can kill or maim are sadly a feature of modern life in the UK. No bomb threat can be taken lightly.”
The judge accepted that Garland never intended to make £1m from the letter, but he did intend to get two colleagues in trouble.
The anonymous letter, which Garland did not touch without wearing gloves, said the two were involved in an earlier, unsolved robbery of a cash-in-transit van.
Garland claimed during the trial that he had been bullied by the colleagues, but this was dismissed by the judge. Garland believed the pair might lose their jobs as a result of his plot.
Nicole Horton, defending, said Garland was immature and naive: “This was a badly thought-out piece of revenge, clearly he never intended to make himself a financial gain.”
Garland has been on remand since being convicted of blackmail.
Horton said: “Daniel has had the shock of his life in going into prison and has found it an extremely distressing experience.”
At the trial, the jury was told how the branch manager, Dean Jeffels, was terrified when he read the letter, which said robbers would storm the depot with weapons if £1m was not loaded on to a truck the next day. It also warned of visiting a mother and her newborn baby while her partner, a G4S employee, was at work.