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Hoax bomb caller caught after leaving number with police

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 25/08/2016

Karl Patrick McCartan, who is from the Markets, admitted being behind a total of 12 hoax bomb calls which were made to the emergency services between October 1 and 12 last year
Karl Patrick McCartan, who is from the Markets, admitted being behind a total of 12 hoax bomb calls which were made to the emergency services between October 1 and 12 last year

A man who made hoax bomb calls claiming explosive devices had been placed in the Markets area of Belfast regrets his actions and recognises his stupidity, a court was told yesterday.

Karl Patrick McCartan, who is from the Markets, admitted being behind a total of 12 hoax bomb calls which were made to the emergency services between October 1 and 12 last year.

Belfast Crown Court heard that McCartan, who claimed he was calling from either "Action Against Drugs" or "Republican Headhunters" - was caught after he left his mobile number with police over an unrelated incident. Officers were able to link the calls to the phone.

A barrister representing the 36-year-old defendant, from Stewart Street in Belfast, said the calls were a "toxic mix" of his client's hatred of paramilitaries and substance abuse.

Outlining the Crown case against McCartan, prosecuting barrister Rosemary Walsh told the court that the series of hoax bomb calls not only cost more than £18,000, but also came in an area of the city that had at the time experienced two high-profile murders.

McCartan rang 999 and claimed that either pipe bombs or improvised explosive devices had been left in and around the Markets area. He also made a call on October 3 in which he threatened that four drug dealers would be shot.

Ms Walsh said that during some of the calls, McCartan claimed bombs had been left close to where children were present, and "specifically requested" that police be sent to the area. This, the Crown said, was a plan to try and encourage a police presence.

The court heard that on October 12, the defendant went to Musgrave Street police station after a bullet was found in an alleyway in Friendly Street. He left his mobile number with police, and it emerged that his phone had been used to make one of the hoax bomb calls.

An investigation subsequently revealed that the same handset was used to make all of the calls, and that during the period of offending different SIM cards were used.

McCartan was arrested and declined to answer any questions, but voice comparison reports revealed "significant similarities" between his and the voice of the caller. McCartan will be sentenced next week.

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