London - For detectives on the trail of a blackmailer who threatened to plant a bomb in a busy town centre, the clue was in the crossword.

Because a former soldier who posted a note demanding that staff at Barclays bank hand over £150 000 or a bomb would be set off in “a very busy place in Lancashire” had very distinctive handwriting.

And when police tracked him down, they found an exact match in a newspaper crossword.

On Wednesday, Clifford Fleming, 65, was beginning a three-year jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to blackmail.

Preston Crown Court heard that he posted the note, which demanded that the cash be left outside a shop in Billington, overnight.

Counter-terrorism police were scrambled to the village and Fleming, a gambling addict heavily in debt, was seen picking up a bag at the “drop” site.

He was followed to his home in Clitheroe and arrested. - Daily Mail