Jail sentence for hoax bomb threat accused

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A man the city was jailed for five months when he appeared at Londonderry Magistrates Court, charged with making a hoax bomb threat in July of this year.

James Harkin (66), of Altcar Park, appeared in court via video link from Maghaberry Prison. The court heard that Harkin telephoned the fire and rescue service on July 30 from a payphone beside Damien House, on Foyle Road. CCTV footage later recovered by police placed Harkin at the scene at the time the call was made.

The Prosecution told the court Harkin claimed he was from Óglaigh na hÉireann and had used a code word. He claimed explosives had been left near the Railway Museum on Foyle Road.

Harkin initially denied making the call and said he had called BT on 151 to ask that a new phone line be installed in his friend’s home.

The court was told Harkin made a second call on July 31 at 1.45pm from Bishop Street claiming a firearm had been left at Shipquay Street.

Eoghan Devlin defending, said the code word used by Harkin had been “b-----d” and as such the authorities would have realised they were not dealing with a serious threat from a terrorist organisation. He said was Harkin was taking anti-psychotic mediation and mixed it with alcohol.

He described his client as “a rather pathetic figure” and more to be pitied than scorned.

Imposing sentence, District Judge Barney McElholm said the PSNI still had to close the area down; “Although I think that more sinister elements that this one are responsible for that.”