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12 March 2014, 19:18
A man who made a bomb threat in Harrods has been jailed for 10 years after committing a series of armed robberies and issuing other bomb threats across London.
David James Williamson, 50, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday 12 March 2014.
He had previously been found guilty of two counts of robbery in London and Warrington, two counts of possession of an imitation firearm also in London and Warrington and one count of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence in Kent.
He was also found guilty of five counts of communicating false information causing a bomb hoax, Scotland Yard said.
Before his robbery spree Williamson made four phone calls to police on 14 October 2012 claiming that there were several explosive devices planted across central London and on the rail network.
On the same day he went to the upmarket department store in Knightsbridge, central London, and left a note for staff in an envelope which stated that an explosive device had been planted.
He was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) counter terrorism unit on 27 March 2013, after they were able to identify him as the caller.
The court heard how Williamson began his armed robbery spree in a Maidstone branch of The Money Shop at 3pm on Thursday 25 October 2012 attempting to obtain money by fraudulent means.
After being challenged by staff Williamson left but returned a short while later and pointed a black handgun at staff, but they managed to activate an emergency alarm. He left empty handed.
Later that same day, Williamson travelled to London and went in to The Delmere Hotel, Sussex Gardens, Hyde Park, and waited for the lone female receptionist to become available before approaching her at the counter and demanding cash from her drawer, police said.
Williamson produced the gun causing the receptionist to fear for her life, and she gave him the contents of the till before he left with the money.
Two days later, Williamson attended a bureau de change counter in the Golden Square shopping centre in Warrington and told staff he wanted to purchase £15,000 worth of euros.
When their suspicion became aroused, Williamson showed the staff his gun causing them to hand over nearly £4,000 cash.
Police said Williamson was tracked on CCTV leaving the shopping centre and catching a bus out of the city centre.
Armed response officers from Cheshire constabulary were sent and eventually stopped the bus at Runcorn town centre where the officers detained him getting off the bus.
He was arrested and when searched the officers recovered an imitation firearm and the money he had just stolen from the bureau de change.
Detective Constable Joseph Agyei from the MPS flying squad said: "These were terrifying attacks committed in broad daylight and caused all the victims involved to fear for their lives.
"Williamson showed an utter disregard for the victims he targeted in public places. I would like to pay tribute to victims and witnesses who supported police with the prosecution in the face of many challenges."