23 Apr 2010

Dunedin student could be charged over bomb scare

7:10 pm on 23 April 2010

Police are considering laying charges against an art student whose photography project sparked a bomb scare in Dunedin.

A member of the public alerted police about 10am on Friday to five suspicious-looking canisters taped to the overbridge and nearby road sign in Green Island.

The discovery forced the closure of the south-bound lane of the southern motorway on State Highway 1 for about three hours. Eleven homes were evacuated and the army bomb squad had to be flown in from Christchurch.

Just after the bomb squad arrived on Friday afternoon, a third year student from the Otago Polytechnic Art School contacted police.

The 21-year-old told police he had installed tiny cameras into cans and taped them to the overbridge and road sign to capture images of traffic for a long exposure photography project.

Inspector Alistair Dickie said the result looked very suspicious and the student should have used his common sense and informed police. He says he will decide whether to lay charges next week.

Mr Dickie says the pin hole cameras had been put on the bridge at the start of the week and is concerned that members of the public did not contact police sooner.

Otago Polytechnic Students Association president Megan Cloughley said she was not aware of the art project until Friday and believes the student should be prosecuted.

"I'm very embarrassed, I'm really disgusted at this type of behaviour. It ends up costing the country a lot of money for these types of scares."

It is the second bomb scare this week in the South Island city. On Thursday, a hoax device resembling a bomb was found in a rubbish tin at Dunedin airport, forcing the building to be evacuated and the cancellation of three flights.