White House bomb prankster sentenced

July 27, 2009 12:00 am

, LONDON, July 27 – A British teenager who sparked a major international investigation after calling the White House and claiming there was a bomb in New York was given a six-month suspended prison sentence Monday.

Thomas Hutchinson, 19, made a drunken call to the White House switchboard during a barbecue in 2008 and told the operator: "There’s f****** bomb in Madison Square Gardens".

The operator pressed a malicious call trace button and the number was tracked down to Britain and the message found to be a hoax, prosecutor Stephen Acaster told Sheffield Magistrates Court in northern England.

The FBI, US Secret Service, New York City Police Department and counter-terrorism officers in Britain took part in the subsequent probe.

"One minute’s thoughtlessness by you, one moment of madness, one drunken prank, all had very serious consequences," judge Tony Browne said, sentencing Hutchinson.

"The distress and real upset caused to Americans by such a hoax is hard to imagine."

Hutchinson, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay 70 pounds (80 euros, 115 dollars) in legal costs.

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing after initially denying involvement.


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