A man has been convicted after threatening guests at a wedding party gathered outside Stockport Town Hall – shouting words including ‘bomb and ‘Muslim.’
Khalid Mehmood, 50, was detained by armed police who were scrambled to Wellington Road South as part of a major response to reports of a man stating he had a bomb.
The town hall and Stockport Library were evacuated and a large section of the A6 was cordoned off by police responding to the incident in September last year.
Wedding guests said that Mehmood had entered the town hall in a ‘confused’ state before saying the word ‘bomb’ in broken English.
He was escorted from the venue by members of the party who called police, after concerns were raised about the contents of a satchel worn by Mehmood.
The satchel – which was later searched by police – did not contain a bomb or any other suspicious items. Mehmood, who lives on Wellington Road South, denied using threatening behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
During a trial at Stockport Magistrates’ Court, Mehmood said he had come across the town hall “by mistake” and said he only approached guests to ask whose wedding it was.
Magistrates convicted Mehmood of the Section 4 Public Order offence today, stating they were satisfied he had used the words ‘bomb’ and ‘Muslim.’
They said that using these words whilst entering a public building would have caused ‘alarm’ or ‘distress.’
Joseph Scott had been attending his sister’s wedding reception at Stockport Town Hall on Saturday, September 22, when the incident unfolded.
He told the court there had been “around 200” guests who were gathering outside to take photographs when an unknown male approached the party.
“I came outside and a man approached me saying the word ‘bus’ followed by the words ‘taxi, taxi'” he said.
“His English was broken and it was difficult to understand what he meant so I pointed towards the building [town hall] and he went inside.”
Mr Scott said as Mehmood entered the town hall, he began to hear a ‘commotion’ between him and other family members.
“He was saying the words, ‘bus, bus,’ then ‘bomb, bomb,’ ‘sorry, sorry,’ ‘Muslim, Muslim,” Mr Scott told the court.
“We couldn’t get anything coherent out of him which was quite unnerving.
“This is a guy at a private wedding using words like bomb and Muslim.
“I decided to ring the police for assistance as I was concerned about the welfare of my family and friends.
“He was carrying a satchel which could have contained offensive weapons.”
Alex Gough told the court that he first became aware of Mehmood after he entered the town hall foyer, wearing a canvas satchel across his shoulder.
“I became aware of someone who had entered that was not a guest of the wedding,” he said.
“I moved across the room and my father-in-law at that point had turned around to escort the individual out.
“As I followed him I started to overheard the conversation.
“I recall hearing the words, taxi, taxi, and ‘bus, bus’ then ‘bomb, bomb’.
“I believe I also heard the words ‘sorry, sorry’ and also the word Muslim was said, but there was no real structure to the conversation.
“He seemed confused and incoherent when talking to us.”
PC David Brown from Greater Manchester Police responded to reports that a male had left a building stating he had a bomb.
In a statement read to the court, PC Brown said: “On arrival I saw a male matching the description and made the decision to detain him right there and then before he could walk back towards the busy town centre.
“I arrested him on suspicion of making a false bomb threat and waited for firearm officers who then took hold of the male.”
Mehmood was detained and interviewed by police where he gave a prepared statement denying that he had used the word ‘bomb.’
CCTV footage from Stockport Town Hall showed Mehmood entering the building before engaging with two male guests.
He claimed he had been out in Stockport having his watch repaired and had stopped at the town hall to ask who was getting married.
He told police he had never used the word ‘bomb’ and denied being a member of a terrorist organisation.