Man who made hoax bomb calls in Belfast ‘regrets actions’

Court
Court

A man who made a series of hoax bomb calls claiming explosive devices had been placed in the Markets area of Belfast regrets his actions and recognises his stupidity, a court heard on Wednesday.

Karl Patrick McCartan, who is from the Markets, admitted being behind a total of 12 hoax bomb calls which were made to the emergency services between October 1 and 12 last year.

Belfast Crown Court heard McCartan - who claimed he was calling from either ‘Action Against Drugs’ or ‘Republican Headhunters’ - was caught after he left his mobile telephone number with police over an unrelated incident, and officers were able to link the calls to his phone.

A barrister representing 36-year-old McCartan, from Stewart Street in Belfast, said the calls were a “toxic mix” of his client’s hatred of paramilitaries and substance abuse.

Outlining the Crown case against McCartan, prosecuting barrister Rosemary Walsh said the series of hoax bomb calls not only cost over £18,000, but also came at a time and in an area of the city which has recently experienced two high-profile murders.

During the calls, McCartan rang 999 and claimed either pipe bombs or improvised explosive devices had been left in and around the Markets area. He also made a call on October 3 when he threatened that four drug dealers would be shot.

Ms Walsh said that during some of the calls, McCartan claimed bombs had been left close to where children were present, and “specifically requested” that police be sent to the area. This, the Crown say, was a plan to try and encourage a police presence.

Defence barrister Barry Gibson described his client as a “vulnerable individual” who revoked his own bail last week due to perceived death threats.

Branding McCartan’s hoax bomb calls as “amateurish”, Mr Gibson said the language used was “pretty rough”, the threat to kill was “very generalised” and it was obvious that the caller was “a person clearly abusing some form of substance or drug”.

Mr Gibson told Judge Gordon Kerr QC that McCartan now recognises the stupidity of his actions and apologised to the court, adding it came at a “chaotic time” in his life when there was a “toxic mix” of hating paramilitaries and taking drugs.

McCartan was remanded back into custody by Judge Kerr, who said he will pass sentence next week.