Details emerged at Ballymena Magistrates Court where Eugene O’Boyle (32), of Glebe Park in Rasharkin, admitted charges of communicating false information that a ‘bomb’ was liable to explode; wasting police time and possession of cannabis. He was sentenced on Thursday at the court where a prosecution lawyer told an earlier hearing that police received a call from O’Boyle on February 11, 2020, alleging an explosive device was attached to the vehicle of the named officer “of Ballymena PSNI”. The call then ended but ten minutes later a second phone call was made in which the defendant said: “If the bomb device doesn’t go off underneath his car he will be called to a domestic incident and will be shot in the head”. The prosecutor said police took the threat seriously and put a cordon around the vehicle at Ballymena Police Station and tasked an “explosives dog to clear the vehicle”. The prosecution lawyer said he had no details as to whether the station had to be evacuated but the threat turned out to be an “elaborate hoax”. He said it was estimated in terms of wasted time the incident cost over £2,600.
The court heard both calls came from the same number which was linked to the defendant and at O’Boyle’s home police rang the number which caused his phone on a table to ring. The defendant told police when arrested: “I thought warning police was a good thing.”
During a search of O’Boyle’s home a cannabis joint was found.
A defence barrister told the earlier court the police custody record showed that when O’Boyle had called police he had “identified himself”. The lawyer said the defendant had been the subject of “harassment in the community” resulting from a “false allegation made against him” and he had felt he had not been getting an “adequate response” from police. The barrister said he “presumed” the named constable had been involved in that investigation.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told the earlier court: “It may well have been somewhat amateurish but if you are a serving police officer, your car is parked at the station, and someone rings in to say there is a bomb under it and then rings in again to say he is going to be shot, I think the police have to act appropriately.” The judge had adjourned sentencing and at the same court on Thursday a defence barrister said O’Boyle had been “very paranoid” but is now in a “very different place” after re-engaging with mental health workers. He said the defendant is now also taking prescribed medication after previously being fearful he was being “poisoned” by it. The lawyer told the court: “All of this started whenever he was falsely accused of rape.
“It then seems he was displeased with the way police dealt with that false allegation and that caused him to behave in a completely irrational way.”
Judge Broderick told the defendant on Thursday: “To make a serious threat against a named police officer not once but twice - and the expense caused to the police - was wholly unacceptable”. He noted there had been no re-offending and the defendant was back on medication and engaging with mental health services. Handing down a five months prison term, suspended for three years, he said he was not ordering O’Boyle to pay compensation as he had “limited income” and being put under “further stressers” could make him re-offend.