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Two suspended after April Fool prank sparks west Cumbrian terror alert

Two west Cumbrian apprentices were arrested after an April Fool prank sparked an evacuation.

The two men who were arrested worked as apprentices for Westlakes, near Whitehaven, based Atkins Nuclear, which provides nuclear, IT and engineering services.

On Wednesday morning the two – Matthew Huwby and Adam Downes, both 18 – moved a colleague’s vehicle without his knowledge from one car park to another in Westlakes Science Park, Whitehaven.

Police said the men intended it to be an April Fool joke and expected the manager to ask the colleague to move his vehicle.

But what they did not realise was that they had parked it in a restricted car park at VT Nuclear Services, a company which provides services to the nuclear and security industry. The car park is for employees only, and security evacuated the 65 staff after they suspected a terrorist threat.

Police arrested the two men who they said were “highly embarrassed and apologetic” about the incident. A police spokeswoman said: “Police had a call out at 11.20am to the Westlakes Science Park. A security guard alerted the police to a white Citroen van which appeared to be abandoned near the building.

“Witnesses said they saw two men leave the vehicle in the car park and then they left the scene via nearby fields.

“As a result of enquiries an 18-year-old man from Cleator and an 18-year-old man from Cleator Moor were arrested. They claimed they were carrying out an April Fools’ Day prank.

Both were arrested for unlawful taking of a vehicle and a bomb hoax.

“Following questions they were released without further action. They have since been suspended from work pending an internal disciplinary.”

A spokesman for Atkins Nuclear said: “We can confirm that the men were apprentices at the company taking part in an April Fools’ Day joke that backfired. We don’t condone what they did and are taking necessary action.”

A spokesman from VT Nuclear Services said: “The car park is monitored by staff. The receptionist saw two men drop off the van and then run away. She alerted security.

“It did not involve any of our employees. As a precaution we evacuated the building. It turned out it was some kind of practical joke.”

Have your say

Clive, what's the big deal with real names? Just because a name is on a post, doesn't necessarily mean that's the posters real name. I'd look at the condition of punctuation and grammar before demanding real names.

There are no day-time security staff at the site in question, so 'correct training' is irrelevant, reading the article makes it quite clear it was a receptionist that made the call and she was probably only following procedures. It might've been an over-reaction, sure. But better an over-reaction to a prank than an under-reaction to a bomb.

Posted by Mr. P Lowestaff on 14 April 2009 at 16:17

Typical - Over-reacting about something so simple, a lot of work place banter and jokes fly around, especially on April Fools! Well done to the apprentices, it's normally them that get picked on, it's just a shame that Atkins can't take a joke, very sad company! Should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by Anon on 14 April 2009 at 13:00

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