Belfast Telegraph

Co Armagh man Kieran Lavery who made 16 hoax bomb calls to police is jailed

Police release audio of one of Kieran Lavery's hoax bomb warnings

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Armagh man has been jailed for making 16 hoax bomb calls claiming devices had been left at various locations in the Craigavon area.

>>Scroll down to hear a police recording of one of Kieran Lavery's hoax bomb warnings<<

Kieran Lavery (20) from Meadowbrook in the Tullygally area of Craigavon, admitted making a total of 16 hoax bomb calls on seven separate days between May 2013 and January 2014. He also admitted two counts of placing an article with intent to cause a bomb hoax.

Lavery will spend 17 months of his sentence in prison, with the remaining 17 months on supervised licence upon his release.

Belfast Crown Court heard that in the midst of the calls claiming devices had been left at various locations, police in the area had concerns as they were reminded of the modus operandi employed in the fatal shooting of Constable Stephen Carroll, who was murdered in Craigavon whilst responding to a 999 call in March 2009.

The cost of dealing with the incidents amounted to around £29,500.

The court heard that on one occasion, Lavery made a hoax call and while he gave a false name, when asked for a date of birth he gave his own - prompting his own barrister to tell the court, "we are hardly dealing with a hardened terrorist here."

Crown prosecutor Kate McKay told the court that a police investigation was launched into a series of hoax bomb calls claiming devices had been placed in the Craigavon area.

The first call was made on May 19 last year, when the duty manager at Brownlow Leisure Centre received a call from a male who spoke with a local accent.

On this first occasion, Lavery claimed a device had been left on the Brownlow Road, and during the call no codeword was given or organisation mentioned.

During the course of that day and night, a further three hoax bomb calls were made.

The following day, on May 20 last year, two calls were made to a 999 operator claiming there was a bomb at Brownlow College in Craigavon.

On May 28, a 999 operator received a call saying there was a bomb on the Brownlow Road, while a second 999 call was made later that day regarding a bomb at Tullygally Road East. That same afternoon, witnesses reporting seeing a black schoolbag at the entrance of Brownlow College containing a cylindrical object. When police examined the device, it was deemed not to be viable.

On July 4 last year, Lavery made a total of five hoax bomb calls claiming a device had been left in the Tullygally Road area of Craigavon. That afternoon, a witness reported seeing a suspicious object in the area with corks and wires attached to it. Once again, when examined the device was not found to be viable.

Lavery made further hoax bomb calls in January 2014. On January 12, he called 999 claiming there was a bomb at Craigavon Police Station, while on January 31, a member of staff at Drumgore Youth Centre received a call claiming a bomb had been left at the same PSNI station.

Ms McKay said that as a result of the police investigation, Lavery's home was searched on August 22, 2013. Among the items seized was a Nokia mobile phone, and when this was analysed it emerged the phone had been used to make a number of the hoax calls.

Also found during the search were several pictures on a phone including an image of members of the security services, someone wearing a balaclava and someone holding a firearm.

When the telephone analysis had been completed, Lavery was arrested this February and taken to Antrim Serious Crime Suite. He was interviewed five times and when the allegations were put to him, he made no comment.

Ms McKay told Judge David McFarland that police believe the motivation for the hoax calls was to "lure police officers in to areas where they would be vulnerable to attack by dissident republicans."

Ms McKay concluded the Crown case by saying: "The pictures on the mobile phone show a mindset in respect of this defendant, as well as requesting to move to the dissident wing."

Addressing this move, Lavery's barrister Tony Lunny said the request was only made after Lavery was attacked by three assailants during his time on remand in Hydebank, and that when the attack occurred Lavery didn't want to worry his mother and other relatives "on the outside."

Branding his client as "not the brightest man around", Mr Lunny made the case that Lavery was "on the periphery" when the two devices were planted, adding Lavery's role was "as a lookout" whilst others laid the devices down.

Passing sentence, Belfast Recorder David McFarland pointed out the cost of policing Lavery's offending.

Speaking of the threat posed to police officers by dissident republicans, the Judge said he couldn't just dismiss the hoax calls as pranks, especially given Lavery's interests in dissident republican activity.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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