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NI teen admits making 14 US hoax bomb threats

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Antrim man has appeared in court on charges linked to a spate of hoax bomb threats made to schools, airports and organisations in America, including Columbine High School.

Ben Megarry, who has autism, was charged with making a total of 23 hoax bomb threats between March and September 2012. The 19-year old, from Harmin Park in Newtownabbey, pleaded guilty to 14 of the 23 charges levelled against him, whilst denying a further nine charges.

Each of the offences states that Megarry "communicated certain information which he knew to be false ... with the intention of inducing a false belief that a bomb or other thing was liable to explode or ignite".

Megarry admitted making two hoax bomb threats to Columbine High School in Colorado on April 16 and 18, 2012, as well as Malibu High School and Chico High School.

Others which received a threat include LAX Airport in Los Angeles, both Kansas International and Kansas City Airports, the Royal Stadium in Kansas and a Walmart store in Missouri.

After pleading guilty to 14 charges, Megarry then entered 'not guilty' pleas to a further nine charges. He denied making a third hoax bomb threat to Columbine High School on April 20, 2012, and of making a further eight hoax bomb threats to other schools in Texas and California, as well as JFK International Airport and Mann's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

The venue has also in the past hosted the Oscars. Defence barrister Luke Curran spoke of "the complexity of the case" and asked that it be reviewed again later this month.

Judge Sandra Crawford agreed to this request, before releasing Megarry on continuing bail.

Columbine High became a household name after students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 fellow students and a teacher in one of the most deadly attacks ever carried out at an US school.

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