Bitter man’s ‘campaign of terror’ led to Shefford bomb hoax

Court
Court

A bitter ex-partner made a Bedfordshire woman’s life a misery in a “campaign of terror” that escalated into a bomb hoax at a Shefford school.

Scott Spraggs, 31, had a history of harassing ex-girlfriends and he couldn’t face the facts when the woman ended their four-week relationship in the summer of 2017.

From August 20 onwards, Spraggs, of Vinters Avenue, Stevenage, harassed the woman relentlessly with hundreds of phone calls, cruel emails taunting her over her grandfather’s death, and fake online dating accounts – with strange men turning up at her home wanting sex.

Finally, on December 7, 2017, Spraggs sent a message to Shefford Lower School and told them there was a bomb in the school.

This forced 472 pupils and 60 staff to evacuate the school, with shocked parents coming to collect their children. Spragg’s ex-partner said she was “terrified by the bomb threat” and told police she knew instinctively that Spraggs was behind it.

Today at Luton Crown Court, Judge Nic Madge jailed Spraggs for 17 months, telling him: “It’s hard to imagine anything that could have been more unpleasant and threatening for a young woman. These things must have been devised by you to cause maximum distress to her.

“It’s also easy to imagine the distress and worry caused to pupils, staff, and parents who had to drop everything and travel immediately to the school to collect their children.”

The court was told about Spragg’s history, which included a suspended sentence in 2015 for stalking an ex-partner. He also had previous cautions for sending menacing communications to another ex-girlfriend.

Prosecutor Neil King said: “The first harassment was on August 20, 2017 . The victim lived with her young daughter and she received 47 missed calls from the defendant and then he started sending emails and text messages to her.”

Over 250 calls were made to the victim over a period of eight days. Several explicit messages were also read out in court.

Mr King added: “He then set up false online dating accounts and sent random men around to her house. One man turned up saying he was going to have sex with her and her young daughter.”

As more strange men started turning up at her home, the woman feared for her safety and sent her daughter away to live with relatives.

She also received threatening messages from various email accounts, one of which was “Rotting [name]” in reference to her recently deceased grandather, as well as one in her daughter’s name prefaced with “RIP”.

In mitigation, defence barrister Paula Bignall said that Spraggs was in need of psychiatric help and asked for a suspended sentence, although she acknowledged that he had waged a “campaign of terror” against the victim.

Judge Madge said it was important the victim was able to move on with her life and added: “These offences are so serious that I have no option but to impose an immediate custodial sentence. It’s not appropriate in these circumstances to impose a suspended sentence order.”

Spraggs was jailed for four months for harassment, 12 months for the bomb hoax and one month for criminal damage after urinating against the wall of his cell, to be served consecutively.

Judge Madge also questioned why the harassment campaign was charged under the less serious Section 2 offence rather than a Section 4, and he requested the District Criminal Prosecutor write to him to explain the charging decision.