Man bailed over bomb hoax

Published Wednesday, 19 March 2014
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A Bangor man accused of causing a bomb hoax has been released on bail despite being labelled "dangerous" by a judge.

Man bailed over bomb hoax
The alert was triggered last November. (© UTV)

Granting bail to 31-year-old Jackie Johnston at Newtownards Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, District Judge Gerald Trainor said that with 156 previous criminal convictions "you have shown that you are a dangerous person and threaten people."

The judge warned him that "if you put one foot out of place you will be back in custody."

Johnston is charged with "communicating false information causing a bomb hoax" on 26 November last year in that he allegedly told a police controller there was a bomb at Riverside Meadows in Ballynahinch.

Johnston, a labourer from Berkley Square in the seaside town, was also charged with wasting police time and causing criminal damage to an electronic bail tag belonging to G4S security on the same date.

Detective Constable Murphy said she believed she could connect Johnston to the charges and revealed the offences arose as part of an ongoing dispute with his former neighbour.

Indicating that police were "strongly objecting" to Johnson being released on bail, the officer told the court that at around 11pm on 25 November a male caller claiming to be from "criminal elements" said there was an unexploded type bomb in the Riverside Meadows area of Ballynahinch which then triggered a police investigation and security alert.

Despite two detailed searches, nothing untoward was found and DC Murphy said the cost of the police operation was just over £2000.

Johnston was arrested at the time, but released on police bail pending further enquiries.

However, he was rearrested on Tuesday when a forensic voice comparison expert reported that his voice was "heavily distinctive and consistent" with being the caller.

During cross examination from Johnston's solicitor, the officer agreed that the voice comparison report was the only evidence against him at the moment.

But she added that the investigation into the source of the call, believed to have been made from a mobile phone using an internet calling application, was ongoing.

Releasing Johnston on his own bail of £1000, with a surety of £500, District Judge Trainor barred the defendant from "setting even one toe" into Ballynahinch, ordered him to observe a curfew from 11pm to 7am and also prohibited him from owning or using a mobile telephone, adjourning the case until 7 May.

© UTV News
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