A MAN who threw the town into panic over a hoax bomb has been jailed for two years.

Sergio Costa, of Elm Park Road, Reading, admitted to planting the package in the toilets of The Oracle in June.

The 46-year-old was said to have constructed the device so that he could be regarded as a 'hero' when he uncovered it.

Costa, who worked as a cleaner, was charged with one count of a bomb hoax on July 3 after placing an article with intent to cause fear of explosion or ignition.

Costa was accused of placing a printed circuit board, consisting of two D cell batteries and unknown white powder, intending to appear as an improvised explosive device.

The Oracle was closed all day and road closures were put in place after a suspect package was found in the men's toilets near House Of Fraser.

A bomb disposal unit was dispatched along with the hazardous substances team and word quickly spread that a bag with wires coming out of it had been left in the toilets.

He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay £170 in costs.

The hoax device caused massive disruption across the town as buses and cars were re-routed to avoid The Oracle.

Meanwhile, hundreds of shoppers were stranded in the town centre while their cars remained inside the centre’s two car parks.

Andy Briggs, managing director at The Oracle, said: "We were pleased with the response, because we were able to identify the threat and get The Oracle closed and keep shoppers away from the area before the centre was opened."

Staff from retail outlets inside the mall sought refuge in a nearby church while others were sent home for the day.