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Portadown man in hoax ‘suicide vest’ threatened to ‘blow up police’ before pouring all over himself

jailed craigavon court

A man who threatened to “blow up police” with a hoax suicide vest during a dramatic stand-off with an armed unit in Portadown has been jailed.

John Gerard Duffy, 23, of Churchill Park, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, via video-link from Maghaberry, charged with theft and communicating false information causing belief of explosion.

Before the facts were read, his defence counsel noted that Duffy had made full admissions to the charges.

The court heard that on June 10 of this year, police received a call from the public call box on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown stating that a male was “wearing a suicide vest”.

Police attended the scene and observed the defendant walking down the middle of the road attempting to conceal items under his jacket.

Police observed a “pipe, wires and mobile phones under the jacket.”

The defendant was behaving in an aggressive manner, stating that he was going to “blow up police”.

police watched him entering the grounds of a local factory, before lifting a drum of oil from a store room and pouring the contents over himself.

He was detained by police officers from the armed response unit and taken to Craigavon Area Hospital after being detained under the mental health order, where he stayed for a number of days for treatment.

He was arrested on June 21 in relation to the offence of communicating false information causing bomb hoax and theft.

During interview he stated: “I really don’t know why I did this.”

He added that he was “extremely sorry and embarrassed”.

Duffy’s defence counsel, Conor Lunny, noted in relation to the defendant that: “When about to be apprehended by police officers he proceeded to pour this drum of oil over his own head.”

“I think that evidences the desperately low state in which Duffy found himself,” he said.

“Thankfully for him, he’s not in breach of any suspended sentences.

“Both alcohol and illicit drugs have played a part in his behaviour and no doubt was exacerbated with his existing mental health difficulties.”

He further commented that his client had apologised and entered a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity.

“He wishes me to apologise to everybody on his behalf,” he added.

District Judge Bernie Kelly said: “These are serious matters and have to be certified as such.”

For the charge of false communications, Judge Kelly imposed a sentence of two months imprisonment.

For the theft charge, a three month sentence was imposed to run concurrently with the two month sentence, totalling three months in prison for the offences.

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