Man allegedly threatened to ‘blow up’ his Ballymena home
A court has heard a man told police he wanted to “blow up” his home and officers could smell gas and there was a sound of hissing on July 12 this year.
Details emerged during a failed bail application by Daniel O’Boyle (33), of Drumtara, Ballymena, who is accused of attempting to cause an explosion by ‘tampering with mains gas supply’ which was likely to endanger life. He is also charged with causing criminal damage to gas piping belonging to Firmus Energy and assaulting a police officer.
The defendant appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court via video link from Maghaberry Prison where he has been on remand.
Objecting to bail a police officer said at 9.30pm on July 12 this year police attended O’Boyle’s address following a request from NI Ambulance Service.
The court was told the defendant had been threatening to “self harm” and was heavily intoxicated.
O’Boyle was said to have told police he had damaged a gas pipe. There was a strong smell of gas and hissing could be heard.
Police made efforts to evacuate nearby buildings and the Fire Service set up a cordon.
When arrested the defendant attempted to headbutt a police officer.
During a PSNI interview the defendant admitted the assault charge but denied causing damage to the pipe saying it had been “damaged for weeks”.
He said he did not mean it when he told police he was “going to blow the place up” but that he was intoxicated at the time.
The police officer said there were “serious concerns” if O’Boyle was released on bail to the address.
She said the defendant admits he is addicted to heroin and it would be a “recipe for disaster” if he went back to the Drumtara address.
The court heard O’Boyle had 32 previous convictions.
The officer said there was a damaged pipe but she couldn’t comment on whether there was a “risk of an explosion”.
The court heard a statement from Firmus Energy has been sought.
Defence barrister Stephen Law said O’Boyle suffered from poor mental health which was “accelerated” by taking alcohol.
He said the defendant had been in custody for two months.
Mr Law said a retired GP, Audrey Johnston - a “good Samaritan” - had come to court to say she was prepared to be the defendant’s “guardian” if he was released on bail.
The lawyer said Ms Johnston is “with the Green Pastures Church” which O’Boyle attends.
Mr Law said the defendant had been volunteering at a charity shop and, if bailed, he could go there from Monday to Saturday but it was closed on Sundays.
The barrister said Ms Johnston would help O’Boyle re-engage with a GP and Community Addictions.
Mr Law added: “This is a man who has stumbled.”
He said there was a “glimmer of hope” if O’Boyle was allowed to rehabilitate in the community.
The lawyer said Ms Johnston would do “everything in her power” to ensure O’Boyle fulfilled any bail conditions.
Mr Law said if there were any slips by O’Boyle Ms Johnston would contact police. He added: “It is unusual to have a lady of such standing prepared to come to court to stand over this man”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said he was concerned about a history of mental health and addictions and the “unsuitability” of the address at Drumtara.
He also said he did not have much information from the defendant’s GP or mental health services in front of him in relation to any “mental health support package”.
The judge said he recognised the input from “the Green Pastures Church may have, however, I am not entirely satisfied that they would be able to police, and or supervise, the defendant at all times”.
He refused bail and the case was adjourned to October 7.