‘Goth Loner’ Is Questioned Over Letter Bombs

A man described as a ‘loner’ was being questioned last night over a series of letter bomb attacks which have left nine people injured.

{mosimage}Miles Cooper, a 26-year-old school caretaker who does not drive, was arrested at his home near Cambridge early yesterday on suspicion of sending seven letter bombs in the past month, several to the offices of companies with links to traffic regulation enforcement.

Former schoolfriends of Cooper recall him as a shy, awkward boy

Cooper, described by his uncle as “a lonely boy most of his life”, had been under surveillance for some time at the terrace house in the village of Cherry Hinton, where he has lived with his mother and sister all his life. Police sources confirmed the arrest was linked to all seven bombs, which were sent in A5 Jiffy bags, some containing glass and at least one with a Cambridge postmark.

Five of the parcels actually exploded, causing minor injuries, and it is believed that others may have been intercepted by postal staff alerted by police warnings.

Assistant Chief Constable Anton Setchell, the national co-ordinator for domestic extremism, warned post room workers to continue to be vigilant as letter bombs might still be lying in unopened mail.

After Cooper’s 3am arrest, specialist forensic teams began a search at his home. Officers also searched the Church of England primary school in the neighbouring village of Teversham where Cooper works, and his father’s home in March, Cambs.

Peter Mepham, 52, Cooper’s uncle, said of his nephew: “He has been a lonely boy most of his life. The family used to get together for Christmas until about five or six years ago but I haven’t seen him in a long time. He didn’t say much. We are not a close family.”

Cooper has apparently changed his appearance drastically since he was pictured as a schoolboy with short hair and a sober style of dress.

Former schoolmates at the Cherry Hinton Community Junior School and the Netherhall School also remember an unusually reserved boy with long hair and ‘goth’ clothes.

Jo Lee, a 26-year-old housewife from Cambridge attended both schools with Cooper and said he was quiet.

“He never took part in any after-school clubs or hung around with anyone. He definitely never had any girlfriends.

“He wore big boots and long greasy hair, he looked ‘grebby’ [like a goth]. He never really spoke much.”

Since leaving school with indifferent exam results, Cooper worked briefly at a children’s nursery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and at a Tesco supermarket.

In 2002, he got a part-time job cleaning his old primary school, and was moved to Teversham Primary on a full-time salary of £10,000 in August, 2005. He was cleared by a Criminal Records Bureau check in 2002, according to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Michelle Brasnett, a 37-year-old dinner lady at Teversham who also lives near Cooper, said: “He didn’t speak to anyone unless he was spoken to.”

Next-door neighbour Keith Bailey said that Cooper had lived at the house with his mother Lorraine and sister Sally, who is also in her 20s, for the best part of 20 years.

“I see Miles most mornings when I am out walking the dog,” said Mr Bailey, 65.

“He’s usually out walking. Mostly, all we do is say hello. That’s about all you ever get from Miles — he is a very quiet sort of boy.

“He is the last person in the world I would have thought would be arrested over something like this.

“He is not a rowdy type of lad at all. Very quiet; you don’t see him about much. His sister is the same. You hardly ever see her.

“There was a time when you used to see Miles in the front garden putting out candles. I don’t know what he was doing.”

Cooper is being questioned about all seven letter bombs, which police now believe are linked. Since Jan 18, three have been sent to forensic science laboratories in Oxfordshire and the West Midlands.

Another three were sent earlier this month to the offices of companies with links to traffic regulation enforcement in London, Berkshire and Swansea. The seventh was sent to a house in Folkestone, Kent, the business address of a now-defunct security company.