Hoax bomb warning accused released on bail

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A man accused of making a hoax bomb warning claimed he was from Óglaigh na hÉireann, a court has heard.

James Francis Harkin, whose address was given on court papers as Damien House, Foyle Road, is charged with making a hoax bomb warning on July 30.

The 65-year-old is further charged with improper use of public electronic communications on the following day.

Derry Magistrates Court heard allegations that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service received a bomb warning in the early hours of the morning.

The caller claimed he was from Óglaigh na hÉireann and used the code word ‘b*******’.

He went on to claim that he had abandoned explosives in a car parked opposite Damien House.

The court heard the call was made from a pay phone in William Street.

Police searched the area but ‘nothing untoward’ was found.

Harkin was arrested 40 minutes later and he allegedly told police ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann will kill you all’.

During police interview, the 65-year-old denied making the hoax bomb warning but claimed he had used the phone.

Harkin was released on police bail pending further enquiries.

However, it is alleged he made another 999 call in the early hours of the following morning claiming there was a firearm in a room at Damien House.

This call was also made to the NIFRS and the caller was drunk.

The court heard allegations CCTV footage obtained by police shows Harkin leaving this phone box in Bishop Street at the time of the call.

Opposing bail, an investigating officer revealed Harkin had only been released from prison two days before the alleged offences after serving a five month sentence for making hoax bomb warnings.

The officer said the defendant is ‘putting both the police and the public at some degree of risk by his behaviour’.

He added Harkin has ‘nothing to learn from being arrested or incarcerated’.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said his client has a ‘long record and a long history of mental health and alcohol issues’.

He told the court the defendant has ‘got into the habit of making these hoax calls when he has drink taken’.

Deputy District Judge Laura Ivers granted bail with a number of conditions, including a ban on consuming alcohol and a ban on using or possessing a mobile phone.

Harkin will appear in court again on October 1.