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Lurgan man falsely claimed bomb was being planted under car

"It's a very serious matter and it's taken seriously by all in this country, especially given our recent history."

A Lurgan man who falsely claimed a bomb was being planted under a car, before damaging a police vehicle, has been jailed for five months.

Justin Robinson, of Hoop Hill Park, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday via videolink from Maghaberry.

The 25-year-old was charged with communicating false information causing belief of explosion, criminal damage and theft.

The charge of theft was put to Mr Robinson and he was asked if he wished to go for trial by jury or be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court.

He opted to be dealt with in the latter and pleaded guilty to the offence, alongside the other charges.

The court heard that on May 5 this year, a call was made to the Fire Service from a male stating that he had seen someone putting a bomb under a car in “Ardmore Park” in Lurgan.

Following checks on police systems, the phone number was linked to the defendant, who was in breach of his curfew. It was also established that the address given by the defendant did not exist.

Several crews were dispatched and the defendant was located in Ardboe Drive in Lurgan, where he kicked out at a police vehicle, causing the wing mirror to come off.

He was then arrested for communicating false information and criminal damage. It was further discovered that he had no G4S tag in custody and he was further arrested.

A defence solicitor then told the court that the defendant had entered a guilty plea to the charges at the earliest opportunity, adding that Robinson had indicated to the court in July that the offences were accepted.

She continued that they hoped the matter could have been dealt with alongside the most recent entry on his record but that the PPS had not been in a position to take a plea. The defendant had also been in custody on this case since the start of May.

The defence accepted that Robinson has a “very poor record” but that he has been “addicted to prescription drugs for as long as he can remember and essentially all of his offending has occurred while he has been under the influence”.

District Judge Bernie Kelly, on sentencing, said that Robinson was entitled to credit as he had already spent a “not inconsiderable” period of time on remand.

Referring to the hoax call, she said: “It’s a very serious matter and it’s taken seriously by all in this country, especially given our recent history.”

District Judge Kelly imposed a total sentence of five months in custody, adding: “I strongly urge that upon your release you make significant lifestyle changes.”

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