‘Explosive package’ panicked Royal Mail chiefs

Paul Wood will be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Greg Macvean
Paul Wood will be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A MAN who sent a package which apparently contained explosives caused panicking Royal Mail bosses to close a busy city sorting office a month before Christmas, a court has heard.

Student Paul Wood, 42, sent a letter which he said contained a bomb to a police station in Edinburgh in Edinburgh in November 2013.

The city’s sheriff court heard on Tuesday how a staff member at the sorting office on Cutlins Road came across the package during an evening shift. Wood had written the phrase: “this parcel contains explosives,” on the envelope.

She contacted her bosses - bomb disposal experts then arrived and x rayed the package after imposing a 50 metre safety cordon around the package.

The bomb squad then discovered that it actually contained an audio tape on which Wood had recorded himself making a speech in which he ranted against the police.

Officers recognised Wood’s voice and the schizophrenic was arrested and taken into custody.

Royal Mail bosses then concluded that they lost more than £500,000 when they closed the sorting station so the package could be assessed. Staff there were busy trying to deal with the pre-Christmas rush.

The story emerged after Wood, of Slateford Green, Edinburgh, pleaded guilty to a breach of the peace charge before Sheriff Alistair Noble.

Depute procurator fiscal Alison Innes told the court that the Royal Mail staff member was working on the evening of November 27 last year when she came across the suspect package.

Ms Innes added: “She was within the sorting office when she came across a letter which had been addressed to Torphichen Place Police Station in Edinburgh.

“The sender had written ‘this parcel contains explosives’ on the envelope. She put it down and contacted her manager who instructed her to leave the area and contact the police immediately.

“The cost of closing the sorting office amounted to between £500,000 to £600,000.”

Police Scotland officers then attended and immediately phoned for the bomb squad to come and examine the device.

When the specialist officers arrived, the court heard how they set a 50 metre safety around the suspect device before x-raying the parcel.

Ms Innes added: “They found it contained an audio cassette tape. The tape was found to contain a 30 minute long recording of a man with an English accent who made various derogatory remarks about the police.”

The court heard that officers recognised the man’s voice as being that of Paul Wood. They knew it was him because he had become “fixated” by the police over recent months.

Detectives then arrested him and he told them that he had been responsible for sending it through the post.

Speaking about Wood’s police interview, Ms Innes added: “He spoke freely and he said that he had been responsible for what had happened.

“He said he done it for a laugh.”

The court heard that Wood had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but hadn’t been taking his medication at the time of his offence.

The court heard that he is now taking medication and his condition is now stable.

Sheriff Noble deferred sentence on Wood in order for the court to obtain reports about his character.

He will be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on August 14 2014.