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Man 'fascinated by blue lights' raised false fire alarm

By Nevin Farrell

Published 14/10/2016

A man who has what was described as a
A man who has what was described as a "fascination with blue lights" has been convicted of making a false report of a fire

A man who has what was described as a "fascination with blue lights" has been convicted of making a false report of a fire.

Robert Duffin has previously been accused of involvement in an incident in which a stolen fire engine was driven through Larne, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

The 66-year-old, originally from Green Link in the town but now living at the Simon Community on Larne's Curran Road, has been convicted of raising a false alarm about a fire.

The alleged fire engine rampage case involving Duffin and another accused is still going through the courts system.

Duffin was not present at Ballymena Magistrates' Court yesterday for the case into the fire alarm incident, which happened on New Year's Day. Few details about the crime were outlined to the court.

Asked by District Judge Peter King how many fire engines were involved in the false alarm, a police officer said that there were two.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said contact had been made with the Simon Community and Duffin was aware of the case, but staff claimed he was "a vulnerable individual" and was not capable of travelling to Ballymena on his own.

Mr Law said he had no objections to the case being dealt with on the basis of tendered evidence.

A police officer showed his statement to the judge, who convicted Duffin of the offence.

Mr Law then told the court his client "is involved in the case of carnage in Larne with the fire engine". That was a reference to an incident in which a stolen fire engine damaged houses and cars in the town in March.

Duffin and a 19-year-old man from Larne are charged in connection with that incident.

During the rampage the fire engine careered out of control, causing damage to eight other vehicles and six dwellings.

The emergency vehicle's flashing lights were on when it was found embedded in the front of a house.

A police officer told the court in March that Duffin had a "fascination with blue lights".

Duffin's false alarm case was adjourned for the preparation of a pre-sentence report to a date in November, when the preliminary inquiry in the alleged stolen fire engine case is due at Ballymena court.

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