Man made bomb threats to 999

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A Derry man who told police to ‘blow it up your a**e’ when arrested for telephoning a bomb warning received a suspended prison sentence yesterday.

James Francis Harkin was arrested on September 22 after making two initial ’999’ phone calls from a kiosk in Foyle Street and claiming to be the Continuity IRA. Harkin of Crawford Square, told operators that there was a C4 bomb in William Street primed to explode in 30 minutes. The court heard no recognised code word was used.

During police interview Harkin told officers his brother sounded just like him. Upon release from custody Harkin went to a telephone kiosk in William Street and made another bomb warning. Police then used CCTV to track him. When officers arrived and arrested the defendant he told them: “Blow it up your a**e. I’ll be pleading guilty and don’t need a solicitor or a doctor as I’m guilty.”

Defence solicitor, Seamus Quigley, told District Judge Austin Kennedy: “In relation to this case it is my understanding that the call was taped and it is quite obvious to anyone listening that it was made by a very drunk man struggling to string a sentence together. It is amateurish, drunken, shambolic series of evidence and the height of the PSNI action was to go and arrest the defendant. My client has a history of alcohol abuse and mental health problems. He is 63 years of age and I would ask you to deal with this today, by way of leaving something hanging over his head.”

District Judge Austin Kennedy told Harkin: “You are a man in his sixties who should be taking life easy instead you are making bomb threats which is a very serious offence. This puts pressure on police and creates extreme fears among members of the public. This is a shocking offence and you’ve done the same in the past. You have similar convictions in 2003. I sentence you to five months imprisonment on each of the two counts but I will suspend the terms for two years to allow you to get treatment. If you reoffend you will go to prison.”