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Panic after bomb scare at hospital.

A mentally ill man caused panic when he lied to police about a hospital employee taking a bomb to work, a court heard yesterday.

Sohail Ahmed, of Benwell Grove, Benwell, Newcastle, told officers Talat Sharif, a friend of his wife's and an employee at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, had taken an explosive device to work last October.

Two weeks later, he rang the fire brigade to falsely report a fire at Ms Sharif's house in Newcastle's West End.

Ahmed yesterday pleaded guilty before Newcastle magistrates to the bomb and fire hoaxes and to harassing Ms Sharif, and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Tony Malia, defending, said Ahmed had been suffering from mental health problems when he made the false claims.

He said: "He very much regrets the matter and he says how sorry he is."

Andrew Waters, prosecuting, said Ahmed had made the bomb hoax phone call on October 18 last year and followed it with the false fire claim on November 1.

He also said Ahmed had made a number of anonymous phone calls to Ms Sharif's home and workplace.

Magistrates' chairwoman Lynne Doherty said: "These are very, very serious offences, particularly the waste of force time and the panic you have caused. "We have, however, taken into account the mental symptoms you suffered."

Ahmed was also fined pounds 50 yesterday for failing to stop his car when asked to by police officers last month in the West End of Newcastle.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 18, 2005
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