AN “ATTENTION seeker” caused a night of chaos on a housing estate by creating his own dummy bomb.

Joseph Firminger made the “device” with electric wires and tape and put it on the back of a neighbour’s home at The Diplocks in Hailsham.

He then went around asking neighbours if they thought it was suspicious, and rang the police himself to report it.

It sparked a critical incident with police and Army bomb squad personnel called in.

More than 200 people were ordered to leave their homes, including vulnerable elderly people and children in their pyjamas on a cold January night last year.

Read more on this story: Timeline of Hailsham bomb scare as it happened

But while an Army robot was used to inspect the device, residents on the estate already suspected that Firminger had wasted everyone’s time.

So Firminger’s own family had to be separated from others and given police protection as tensions rose.

The Argus:

At Lewes Crown Court the 26-year-old admitted making a false communication and placing a device intended to look like it could ignite or cause an explosion.

Firminger, a father-of-three, claimed he had no memory of why he had concocted his lies, but it was suggested it was for attention.

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But Judge Mark Van Der Zwart was not impressed, and said it had diverted the emergency services and Armed Forces away from incidents elsewhere.

The Argus:

The judge jailed Firminger for two years and three months.

Rachel Beckett, prosecuting, said the device resembled a drinks can that was 20cm long and 10cm wide.

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Firminger’s DNA was found on it, and electrical wires found on the device matched those which were missing from his home.

Meanwhile police also found he had searched online for “arson and incendiary device training aids.”

The Argus:

The operation involved a police inspector, three sergeants, and 32 officers alongside the Army on the ground.

Rebecca Upton, defending, said it was a “crudely mocked-up device” and said her client had shown “attention seeking behaviour” on other occasions.

Firminger, of The Diplocks, had worked on the railway before an injury at work, and his father had recently died, Ms Upton said.

The Argus:

Judge Van Der Zwart said: “Your actions caused great distress and inconvenience, and wasted public resources.

“The emergency services were severely disrupted.”

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