An Aberdeen art student has been branded “an idiot” after a fake bomb he built for a class project caused a major police incident.
Alexander Campbell has now ended up in Aberdeen Sheriff Court after he forgot to remove the “very good hoax device” from the basement of his flat when he moved out.
Several months later, when a new tenant had moved in, the artwork was discovered and the bomb squad called.
The court was told how the 28-year-old’s actions resulted in roads being closed and nearly 30 properties in Wallfield Crescent evacuated, with some families needing to be relocated overnight.
Disposal experts deemed it to be ‘very good hoax device’
Fiscal depute Victoria Kerr said the new tenant had been living in the flat for three months before uncovering the device.
She said: “The new tenant was having visitors over and he showed them the cellar where he picked up some bottles and a cable and noticed there was a mobile phone attached to them.
“His companions took photos of the device and advised him to contact the police, which he did do.
“Police attended at the locus and put immediate cordons in place along with road closures.
“A total of 26 properties within the vicinity were evacuated and a total of six families were required to be rehoused at Aberdeen Grammar School.
“The device was assessed by explosive ordinance disposal, where it was described as a ‘very good hoax device’, which was missing any type of explosive.”
‘He is an idiot – it’s no more than that’
Solicitor advocate Neil Wilson, who had previously entered a guilty plea to breach of the peace on behalf of his client, said Campbell “accepts that he was an idiot” and he had given “a full explanation of what the item was and why it ended up in the cellar”.
The device was created as part of an art project at Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art in 2018.
Mr Wilson added: “The explanation is that he did something foolish.
“The background to his leaving the flat is that he stayed there with a friend and at the end of the academic year he anticipated that he and his friend would remove the item.
“His friend then moved in with his girlfriend and he had to give up his lease with a week’s notice and he forgot it was in the basement.
“He simply forgot that it was there.
“He is an idiot – it’s no more than that.”
Mr Wilson added that Campbell has since left Aberdeen and is now studying in Glasgow.
Impact of a criminal conviction would be ‘disproportionate’
Sheriff Margaret Hodge said that she accepted Campbell’s behaviour had been the result of “oversight and folly” and handed him an absolute discharge.
The ruling means the court accepts that a crime has technically been committed – but that any punishment of the defendant would be inappropriate and the case is closed.
She added: “I can understand why it has happened.
“I’m not sure that it is even sufficiently reckless – it’s careless really.
“Even taking into account the inconvenience to the public, it seems to me that the impact on him of a criminal conviction would be absolutely disproportionate and as such I’m prepared to deal with it by way of an absolute discharge.”