Two get jail terms over Alliance HQ pipe-bomb attack
Two men who left a pipe bomb at the Alliance Party headquarters have been jailed for a total of eight and a half years.
In jailing 44-year-old Barry Boardman for four and a half years and Francis Carleton (39) for four years, the Recorder of Belfast, Judge David McFarland, said he was making a distinction between them because Boardman had carried and “deployed” the “crude” pipe-bomb whereas taxi driver Carleton had acted as a courier.
Boardman, from Claremont Street, and Carleton, from Cavendish Street, both Belfast, had pleaded guilty to possessing the improvised pipe-bomb on May 26 last year when it was lobbed into the backyard of the Alliance Party HQ on University Street in the south of the city.
A prosecution lawyer said police swooped as Boardman walked out of the alleyway which runs along the back of the offices just before 11pm on May 26.
With a police issue gun pointed at him as he sat on his knees in the street, Boardman told officers there was a bomb and that it was fused but that he had not lit it.
Meanwhile, Carleton, sporting a full beard in the dock as per the ongoing dispute between dissident republicans and the Prison Service, was arrested as he waited nearby in his silver Skoda Octavia taxi.
At the scene and in later police interviews, Carleton claimed he was waiting on his fare and knew nothing of the bomb.
Examined by an Ammunitions Technical Officer (ATO), the pipe- bomb was described as crude but viable and had contained three bullets along with a small amount of low-grade explosive material.
Boardman's defence QC Eilis McDermott said the attack appeared to have been part of a wider campaign of hoax bombs which had been placed all over Belfast at the time in that 48-hour period, causing massive traffic disruption.
“The purpose of planting the hoax bombs appeared to be related to a protest about issues within the prison,” said the lawyer, adding that it seemed “the relevance of the Alliance Party is that Mr Ford is the Minister for Justice”.
Handing down the jail terms and ordering that each man spend half in custody and half on licence, Judge McFarland said the duo were involved in an “ongoing terrorist campaign” to cause disruption to the public and police.