Search

National Gallery bomb scare caused by Tottenham man’s ‘homemade mobile phone charger’

20:04 17 September 2012

Joey Owen outside court. Picture: Ed Wilcox/Central News

Joey Owen outside court. Picture: Ed Wilcox/Central News

Archant

A Tottenham hoaxer sparked a bomb scare at the National Gallery after leaving a package with a red flashing light and wires sticking out of it on a sofa, a court heard today.

Joey Owen, 21, allegedly left the crude device in the corner of a sofa in one of the gallery’s main rooms as tourists milled around.

Owen, of Willoughby Mews off Willoughby Lane, Tottenham, was arrested after returning 10 days later, claiming he needed to find his “phone charger”, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Duty manager Duncan Hales spotted the device in room 30 of the gallery in Trafalgar Square - which houses priceless works including the 17th Century Rokeby Venus by Diego Velázquez - on the afternoon of October 12 last year.

He said: “I thought this was potentially a very serious situation.”

He warned a colleague to stay away before realising there were no explosives in the device, which was later found to be a green circuit board with an infrared receiver, wires and a battery pack.

Security staff later pinpointed Owen on CCTV footage sticking his right hand into the corner of the sofa, and staff recognised him when he returned.

Usha Shergill, prosecuting, said footage showed him “going back to the same sofa where he placed the device”, adding: “He’s looking at that area, talking to some females, pointing and gesticulating.”

Owen admitted to police the device was his but said he had made it to charge his phone and it “must have fallen” from his pocket when he last visited.

But Ms Shergill said an expert examined the device and concluded it was “not possible to charge a mobile phone” with it.

Owen denies intending to induce others to believe in the presence of a bomb or explosive. The trial continues.

Latest News Stories

06:00
Mesut Ozil of Arsenal  (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expects Mesut Ozil to reach double figures in goals for the Gunners this season.

Yesterday, 12:30
Councillor Abdul Hai has been campaigner for extended hours at coroner's courts for years

The government has announced a review into out-of-hours coroner services after members of Muslim and Jewish communities complained they were being prevented from providing their loved ones with proper religious burials.

Yesterday, 08:00
Lindsey Wylie (centre) with the stars of All That Fall at the Jermyn Street Theatre, Dame Eileen Atkins (left) and Michael Gambon. Picture: Polly Hancock

Lindsey Wylie is the founder of the Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundation (AWTF) charity for disadvantaged children, which she set up in 2010 following the tragic death of her 17-year-old daughter Alexandra from cancer. She lives in Highgate with her family.

Petr Cech of Arsenal looks on (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger believes goalkeeper Petr Cech could still play at the top level for six years with Arsenal.

Most read news

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Read more
Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Read more

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Broadway Ham&High e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder