A group of controversial pranksters have been jailed after causing public hysteria during a fake robbery on one of Britain’s biggest art galleries.
The four young men, known as Trollstation, pulled stockings over their heads as they ran through the National Portrait Gallery with replica paintings causing mass panic.
Jarvis was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison, Menzah and Gomes were both handed 18-week terms and the youngest man, Ferizolli, was given 16 weeks in a young offenders’ centre.
In the video, fake alarm starts blaring as one the accomplices pretends to be part of the crowd while he records the ‘heist’.
The men can be heard shouting, “Get the paintings! I’ve got the paintings!” as they run through the hallways of the gallery.
Crowds start to run towards the exit in a hurried attempt to flee the building as the bumbling thieves purposely drop the paintings and scramble to make their get away.
Once outside the building the men try to convince the crowd that it was all joke, but the terrified men and women continue to run away.
“On paper it was a good idea,” Trollstation wrote on their YouTube video of the prank.
“However it didn’t end well.”
The hoax was recorded in July last year and the men were sentenced in London on Monday.
Ebenezer Menzah, 29, Daniel Jarvis, 27, Helder Gomes, 23, and Endrit Ferizolli, 20, pleaded guilty to two counts of using threatening behaviour causing fear of unlawful violence.
District Judge Mike Snow told City of London Magistrates’ Court said the prank was anything but amusing.
“As you know, Sunday is a busy day for art galleries, with many tourists and families.
“I was told that the defendants believed what they were doing was funny. Their sense of humour is warped.
“It was quite foreseeable those attending the gallery, not being in on the joke, but being familiar with recent scenes of people running for their lives from terrorist acts, would be terrified and panic. And that is what happened,” he said.
After their botched prank at the National Portrait Gallery, the men tried a similar prank on the Tate Britain gallery in central London.