A MAN phoned police to claim a bomb had been planted in Bury just two days before the Manchester Arena reopened.

Lee Mellor later told police he had a premonition before the bomb went off at the arena, killing 22 people, and had rung the emergency services from a public call box because he had the same feeling that a bomb was in Bury.

Mellor, aged 30, told a control room operator: “I can’t go into details. All I can tell you is it’s in a school, hospital, doctor’s surgery or business.”

When asked to be more specific Lee told the operator they would have to find out where the supposed bomb was themselves, adding: “I’m not going to tell you.”

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court Mellor was jailed for 25 months after pleading guilty to communicating false information and damaging a police cell.

Andrea Lock, prosecuting, told the court that a police operator took Mellor’s call, made just before 9am on September 8, seriously as it was not long after the arena attack.

“She believed the risk was genuine,” said Miss Lock, who added that six police officers were deployed to try and find the caller and Mellor was quickly identified from CCTV footage.

As a result, no buildings had to be evacuated and the public remained unaware of the apparent threat.

“The consequences of his actions would have been catastrophic had they fallen into the public domain. There would have been panic,” said Miss Lock.

The same day members of the public called police to report a man acting bizarrely in Bury and Mellor called police again that afternoon claiming that there was a large-scale fight at an address in Tottington Road.

Mellor, of Warth Road, Bury, was arrested the following day but became aggressive and violent, smearing his police cell with excrement.

The court heard that Mellor has been assessed by a psychiatrist who concluded he does not have a mental illness.

Mark Shanks, defending, told Judge Angela Nield: “The defendant’s memory of the phone call and his behaviour at the time is sketchy.

“He didn’t make the phone call for any kick or thrill. He can’t explain why he did it.

“He felt for some reason that something was going to happen and it led him to, what he accepts, was an extreme form of action to call the police.”

Mr Shanks added that Mellor maintained he had had the same feeling before the Arena bombing on May 22, which injured hundreds of people and killed 22 including Bury schoolgirl Olivia Campbell-Hardy and Radcliffe man John Atkinson.

Mellor, a father-of-two, was said to be remorseful about making the false call just two days before the arena reopened.

“He realises, at the least, it was extremely insensitive,” said Mr Shanks.

The court heard that Mellor has a criminal record for violent offences and has used drugs in the past, including Spice.

Sentencing, Judge Angela Nield told him: “This was an offence committed in September 2017 and coincided, not only with the raw memory for the people of Manchester and Greater Manchester area of the bombing, but also was timed to coincide with the first opening of the Manchester Arena after the atrocity.

“At that particular time hearts and minds were very much focussed on what had occurred only a short time previously.”

But Judge Nield added: “I accept that this offence was not, in any way, motivated from malice, nor was it motivated by some bizarre sense of humour.”

She said that there was a suggestion that drug use may have been a factor in Mellor’s behaviour, but he denies being a regular drug user.

“It is difficult to work out where the truth lies,” said the judge.