A woman whose terrifying hoax bomb call to a Sheffield supermarket brought half the city to a standstill has been locked up for two years.
Tracey Butterley – described as ‘a local menace for over 30 years’ - contacted Asda in Handsworth, Sheffield, at 3pm on November 7 last year. She said she left a bomb inside the shop - and it would explode in the next half hour.
Frightened shoppers and staff were evacuated from the store, and roads around the supermarket were closed off for two hours by emergency services while the threat was investigated.
The store itself had to be closed for three hours, leading to an estimated loss of £61,500 in takings.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Butterley, aged 49, of Spotswood Road, Gleadless Valley, has a long history of making hoax calls – with convictions for offences dating back to 1983.
Judge Robert Moore said the hoax bomb call to the supermarket was so serious only a substantial jail term was appropriate.
He told Butterley: “You have been something of a local menace over the last 30 years, making up false and frightening allegations.
“Your allegation of a bomb effectively brought that side of Sheffield to a complete standstill for three hours.”
Butterley had already made more than a dozen hoax calls to the emergency services in the month before the incident.
One was a separate claim she had a bomb, and another was a warning that she was armed with a gun and was going to kill her boyfriend.
She bought a new SIM card for her phone in order to send the supermarket bomb hoax text and avoid being traced – and was caught only when police managed to identify her handset as one having been used for previous nuisance calls.
James Baird, prosecuting, said a text message had been sent to the Asda store which read: “I have just left a bomb inside your shop. I’m watching for an explosion across the road. It will go off in half an hour.”
He said the bomb threat caused a ‘good deal of panic among customers and staff at the shop’.
Richard Thyne, defending, said Butterley admitted her guilt but struggled to explain her actions.
“It may well be this defendant doesn’t know, or can’t bring herself to acknowledge, why it is she does these acts,” he said.
“She has started to comprehend the gravity and extent of the impact of what she did.”