Belfast Telegraph

Man in court over Derry security alerts

By George Jackson

A man has appeared in court charged with two offences linked to a bomb alert in Londonderry.

Bernard Cooke (24) from the Simon Community in Melrose Terrace appeared in Londonderry Magistrates' Court charged with phoning police emergency call handlers and telling them that a bomb was liable to explode or ignite at Clooney Terrace. He is further charged with placing a pipe with wires attached to it at Clooney Terrace with the intention of causing a bomb alert.

Both alleged incidents are said to have taken place on Friday night.

The defendant, who has 33 previous criminal convictions and who was released on licence from Maghaberry Prison last December, denies both charges. A 58-year-old man who was also arrested during the same incident was later released pending further police inquiries.

A detective constable told Deputy District Judge Liam McStay that at 11 pm on Friday a man contacted the police on the 999 emergency system and declared that a device had been left at Clooney Terrace. When asked to give his name he gave the name of another man and terminated the call when asked for his address.

The police went to the scene and found the elaborate device at Clooney Terrace. The officer said it was a metal pipe fitted with end caps and with an item which resembled a fuse. It also contained nails and screws.

"He clearly went to some effort to prepare the device which he did on Friday night," the police witness said.

The officer said an army bomb disposal expert who was called to the scene of the alert said the device was not viable.

He said the mobile phone number used to make the bomb alert call was traced to a  58-year-old man who also lived in Melrose Terrace. He told the police that the defendant had asked to borrow his mobile phone and then went away for several minutes before returning to the Simon Community flats.

The detective constable said CCTV footage from inside the flats showed the defendant leaving carrying a bag which contained an object. Ten minutes later external CCTV footage showed the defendant walking past the scene of the alert.

"He is quite clearly recognised but he was wearing slightly different clothes", the officer said.

The police witness said when arrested the defendant denied the charges and then made a no comment interview.

"The motive is not clear," the detective constable said.

"The police received information to suggest he is in dispute with another local resident and that the pipe bomb was placed outside a flat sometimes visited by that other person. Because of the nature of what has happened there is a concern and fear that the defendant, if granted bail, will attempt to cause harm to this other man," the detective constable said.

Applying for bail defence solicitor Keith Kyle said the defendant denied the charges. He said it could take up to six months before all of the forensic, mobile phone records and CCTV footage were fully investigated. Mr Kyle said several alternative bail addresses were available to the defendant but they were objected to by the police.

The Deputy District Judge said given the absence of a suitable bail address well out of the city and given the belief of the police that the defendant would re-offend if released on bail, bail was refused.

The defendant was remanded in custody until August 10. Mr McStay said the defendant had the right to apply to the High Court for bail.

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