A former Asda employee claimed to be a white supremacist when he made a series of hoax bomb threats to busy stores and supermarkets.

Christopher Butterfield, 63, made six phone calls to shops including the Asda store where he used to work as well as Primark and Ikea around Sutton, Croydon and Surrey over the course of a week. Three of the calls were on the same day.

In two calls he claimed that he was a white supremacist or involved with the National Front, and had planted bombs on their premises.

The calls triggered mass evacuations and cost businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Butterfield, from Tadworth, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and nationality and to plead guilty to all six charges when he appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court Wednesday afternoon.

The court heard that Butterfield made at least one of the the hoax calls from inside the shop he was phoning, and that until November he had been an employee at ASDA in Croydon - which he phoned twice.

Brinkman May, prosecuting, said: “At 11.37am on February 16th, a call was made to ASDA, with a member of staff answering the phone.

“A man’s voice said that there is a bomb in the store. The member of staff noted the phone number and the caller hung up.”

Police were called to the scene, arriving less than ten minutes later and evacuated the supermarket, putting a cordon in place around it.

Mr May added: “ASDA estimated a loss of revenue of £75,000.”

The following day police were called to the same supermarket after Butterfield phoned again - using the same number.

He told a staff member: “I have put a bomb in your store. It is in a white package.”

Officers quickly declared the incident a hoax after they had searched the store.

Four days later, on February 21, police were called to Waitrose in Banstead to respond to a “bomb threat”.

Mr May said: “A male voice stated that there is a bomb in the store, you have 30 minutes until it goes off.”

The supermarket was quickly evacuated after police arrived, with Waitrose again claiming the panic had lost it £75,000 in lost revenue.

Later that day Butterfield made another hoax call to a Primark in Sutton, claiming that he had placed a bomb in the shop.

When pressed by a member of staff over the phone, he responded: “Let’s just put it this way, it’s to do with the National Front.”

Less than two hours later, Butterfield phoned a Sainsbury’s in Epsom, and claimed to have put a bomb in the building.

A cordon was in place until 7.44pm, more than three hours after police had arrived to evacuate and search the premises.

Prosecutors said that Sainsbury’s claimed the incident cost them £100,000 in lost custom.

Finally, the following day, Butterfield phoned IKEA in Croydon.

According to Mr May, he said: “I am a white supremacist. There is a bomb in the car park.”

It later emerged that Butterfield had been in the store when he made the phone call, as his car was spotted by the police’s automated numberplate recognition technology.

Mr May said: “It is suggested that the motive may have been that he was employed at one of these locations - the ASDA, I believe - up until November.

“He was dismissed due to an alleged complaint made against him.”

Adding that Butterfield had previously been “of alleged good character”, the prosecutor said: “It was suggested by the police that there may have been mental health issues.”

Mr May added: “You heard the estimated losses to the business establishments, and the panic that was caused by these hoaxes - to not only these companies themselves, but to members of the public.

“He should be sentenced in crown court.”

Nick Robenshaw, defending, added: “I think my friend is absolutely right. He should be sentenced in crown court, and on that basis I won’t address you fully.”

Daniel Lillis, chair of the Magistrate’s bench, said: “You have pleaded guilty to these offences, but this court is of the view that its sentencing powers are insufficient.

“You are therefore committed to Croydon Crown Court at a date of which you will be notified in due course.”

Butterfield, who was wearing a grey sweatshirt as he sat in the dock, will be remanded in custody until his sentencing.