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11 September 2017, 19:41
A man who took hostages at a job centre while wearing a fake suicide vest and warned terrified staff "this is not a hoax" has been jailed for more than five years.
Maxwell Brennan, 28, had in his hand a device with wires which employees at Byker job centre in Newcastle thought was a detonator.
Brennan had got in to the building early on June 9 - the morning after the general election and only weeks after the Manchester bombing - having put a knife to the throat of an elderly security guard, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
At a previous hearing he admitted false communication, false imprisonment and offences associated with having knives and hammers, and has now been jailed for five years and four months.
He made his fake vest out of aerosols, wood and metal, Mark Giuliani, prosecuting, said. Brennan had knives and hammers with him, as well as tape to restrain hostages.
The court was shown CCTV of the three-hour incident, which Brennan later told police was motivated because his GP was ignoring him.
Brennan,of Shipley Walk, Byker, approached the security guard and said: "This is not a hoax, I have a bomb."
He then pushed his way into the building, which was not yet open to the public, and told staff to gather in the waiting area.
He let the women go but made one stay back and tie up two male colleagues, despite them being in poor health.
Officers quickly arrived from Byker Police Station next door and they established Brennan was troubled and emotionally unstable.
They safely negotiated the release of the men and Brennan eventually agreed to take off his vest.
He finally walked out of the building dressed only in his underpants so armed police could be sure he posed no threat.
Negotiators had asked him what he wanted and at one point he asked to see the Queen.
Much of Byker had been cordoned off, buses re-routed and the Metro system was partly shut down.
Staff were convinced the threat was real and victim statements revealed the trauma they have suffered since.
Tony Cornberg, defending, praised the armed officers for the restraint they showed in dealing with Brennan that day.
Judge Paul Sloan QC said: "It is testament to the professionalism of the officers."
Mr Cornberg said it had been a "loud" cry for help, adding: "That is what lay at the heart of it, not evil or the desire to hurt anybody."
The judge said Brennan's mental health had been made worse by his use of drink and drugs, and since he has been on remand it had improved.
He said: "There has been a marked psychological impact upon several of the hostages."