Drunk man tried to breach police bomb alert cordon

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A homeless man who shouted abuse and interfered with police during a bomb alert has been handed a three-month suspended prison sentence.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard how James Bell, 28, drunkenly tried to get under a security cordon set up outside a college in the city’s Millfield area on October 9 last year.

Officers had cleared the area at the time amid reports that an explosive device had been left to coincide with a police recruitment event.

Bell, with an address at the Morning Star Hostel, pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly behaviour.

A prosecution lawyer said he arrived intoxicated at the scene of the alert outside the Millfield campus.

He asked police for directions to his hostel and despite being told he could not go through the cordon area attempted to walk under the tape, the court heard.

After shouting expletives and abuse he grabbed and dragged the tape, running a short distance before tripping and falling.

Defence barrister Sean Mullan set out how Bell had been dealing with alcohol and accommodation issues at the time.

“This is a young man with difficulties in his life, but he now has his own flat,” Mr Mullan said.

Imposing a three-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, District Judge Liam McNally told Bell: “No doubt you made life difficult for police at this cordon.”