A MAN who told passengers on a Somerset-bound train he was carrying a bomb has been jailed for three years.

Shaun Walsh, 26, caused panic with the remarks on a busy service from Bristol Temple Meads to Weston-super-Mare, on April 23.

Walsh was arrested at the next stop on suspicion of terror offences - but told officers he had been misunderstood and the bomb claim was found to be a hoax.

He later said he was joking and did not hold extremist views but was convicted of a non-terror related charge.

Edward Hetherington, prosecuting, said Walsh was seen acting oddly before making the remarks on the 2pm train.

He told Bristol Crown Court: "Witnesses said they had been offered a seat persistently by the defendant.

"It was an already busy service, heading south.

"Walsh was then heard to say something along the lines of 'I've got a bomb - it will kill you all' or 'I am sorry to inform you that this will be the last journey you will make - I have a bomb'."

"Some passengers then made their way to another part of the train.

"The police were called to the next station."

The train arrived at Nailsea and Backwell station where Walsh was arrested on terrorism charges.

He was later re-arrested on suspicion of making a bomb hoax.

The court heard his choice of outfit, a puffa jacket, added to the passengers' fears.

Couple Chris Chandler and Sophie Fuoco heard, who heard Walsh make the threat, have struggled since the ordeal.

Mr Hetherington added: "The incident made Mr Chandler panic - he feared for his life.

"He has travelled less often on his own since the incident."

"Ms Fuoco suffers with flashbacks.

"She has nightmares when she sees the man's face.

"She has programmed police numbers into her phone."

David Maunder, defending, told the court Walsh struggled to understand the severity of his claims.

"He is very sorry for the shock caused to the other people on the train," he said.

"There was a lady who he spoke to and apologised to at the time.

"But, he doesn't see why what he thought was a joke has become such a big issue.

"He has a lack of empathy."

Mr Maunder added that the defendant instructed him to tell the court he didn't have extremist views.

"He has absolutely no interest in or affiliation to a terrorist organisation," he said.

"This was an entirely spontaneous decision - it very much came about from the spur of the moment."

He also said that Walsh was no stranger to the justice system, having committed a number of low-level offences.

He said: "He has an extremely troubled background - he grew up in care.

"He has lived a very long part of his life with no practical support.

"This is an individual who, left to his own devices, is someone who will get himself into situations which will bring him into contact with the criminal justice system."

Walsh, formerly of Wick Road, Bristol, had denied a charge of communicating false information in the form of a bomb hoax, but was convicted at North Somerset Magistrates' Court on May 21.

Sentencing Walsh at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday (July 10), Judge Martin Picton said: "You chose to utter the bomb hoax on a crowded train making its way from Bristol Temple Meads to Weston-super-Mare.

"The people in that carriage took you seriously.

"They thought it may be true and they may die.

"It shouldn't need impressing the potential for harm that stating you have a bomb can have.

"Two people have issues which have been exacerbated by what happened on the train.

"What you did was deeply anti-social.

"It caused alarm and distress."

Judge Picton jailed Walsh for three years.

He must serve at least a year and a half before he is eligible for release on licence.