Bomb hoax ‘cost traders £20k’

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A police officer told a District Judge yesterday that a two hour hoax bomb alert in the commercial centre of Derry on Tuesday cost city centre traders £20,000 in lost revenue and also wasted police time.

The constable told Judge Peter Prenter at the local Magistrate’s Court that the figure for lost trading was given to him by Derry’s city centre manager Jim Roddy following the hoax alert. Police applied to have a 41-years-old man who denies causing the hoax bomb alert, remanded in custody.

Martin Gerald Stokes, from Barr’s Lane, Derry, appeared in court charged with telephoning the bomb warning to a member of staff at Specsavers on Ferryquay Street.

The police officer said the staff member at Specsavers was told “there is a bomb at the back of the building, you have 45 minutes to get out”. The staff member told police that the caller spoke in “an aggressive and shouting manner”.

The police officer said police took records of phone calls to Specsavers around the time of the warning and they traced one of the numbers to the defendant. “We went to his house and, when we asked him to produce his mobile phone, we dialled the number we had recovered from Specsavers and the defendant’s phone rang”.

Applying for bail, solicitor Seamus Quigley said his client denied the offence. “The phone is not registered in his name but in his wife’s name. There were two other male adults, his sons, in the house at the time and the phone is used by several people. I say with great confidence that, if I were a betting man, this case will, in three or four months time, quietly disappear”, he added. The defendant was released on his own bail of £500 until his next court appearance on September 15.

He is banned from using or possessing a mobile phone and he must report once a week to Strand Road Police Station.