Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dressed to Kill

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dressed to Kill

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter and Rob Kennedy Court Reporter

MADE from deodorant cans, this is the fake suicide vest worn by a man who brought terror to Tyneside.

When Maxwell Brannen, 28, forced his way into the offices of Jobcentre Plus in Byker, Newcastle, and took staff hostage, police feared they were dealing high a highly dangerous and armed bomber.

But as he begins his prison term today, we can reveal how Brannen's bizarre behaviour : |sparked significant fears of an imminent terror attack |led to a tesnse hostage situation, and |how police safely defused the situation after almost 90 minutes.

Acting Supt, Dave Pickett, has also told how hostages' bravery was vital in bringing the incident to a safe conclusion.

"At that very early stage it became clear through witness statements that we were dealing with an agitated individual who appeared to have explosives strapped round his waist," he said.

"Our primary objective was to preserve the life of those inside the Jobcentre and the surrounding area and it was a huge operation.

"The victims involved were terrified and the way they conducted themselves during the hostage situation is truly amazing. Their bravery has to be commended.

"They were also vital in us setting up a line of communication with Brennan and getting him on the phone to our negotiators was crucial."

CCTV captured Brannen walking at speed towards the Jobcentre just as staff were openingat around 8am on June 9. Dressed in dark clothing and carrying a large black bag, he pushes his way past a man inside the building.

With his eyes concealed behind sunglasses, Brannen can be seen gesticulating towards a number of workers in a seating area, before ordering most of them to leave the building.

He then ordered one woman staff member to tie up one of the two men also being held hostage.

Three workers then remain inside the building as Brannen is seen pacing up and down, in an apparently agitated manner, in front of them before putting his bag and other items down and sitting on one of the chairs. …

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