Man who threatened to cause gas explosion is bailed to work in charity shop

A heroin addict accused of threatening to cause a gas explosion on July 12 this year and blow his home to “Kingdom come” has been released on bail with conditions which include volunteering at a ‘Christian’ charity shop in Ballymena.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:30 am

Daniel O’Boyle (33), of Drumtara in the Ballee estate in Ballymena, 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.

On Tuesday the defendant appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, via video link from Maghaberry Prison where he has been on remand.

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A police officer told a previous court that 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 O’Boyle admitted he was addicted to heroin.

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”.

Defence barrister Stephen Law told the earlier court O’Boyle suffered from poor mental health which was “accelerated” by taking alcohol.

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 had associations with churches including the “Green Pastures Church” which, he said, O’Boyle attends.

Mr Law said the defendant had previously been volunteering at a charity shop and, if bailed, he could go there from Monday to Saturday.

The barrister said Ms Johnston would help O’Boyle re-engage with a GP and Community Addictions.

Mr Law said Ms Johnston would do “everything in her power” to ensure O’Boyle fulfilled any bail conditions and 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”.

The case was adjourned until Tuesday when Mr Law said Ms Johnston, a “Christian lady, “ was prepared to “chaperone” O’Boyle and provide him with work on a voluntary basis in a charity shop - Life-Line Ministries at Pat’s Brae in Ballymena.

A police officer told Tuesday’s Court he had attended the July 12 incident after O’Boyle had initially phoned the Ambulance Service and the defendant told him he was going to “blow the place to Kingdom come”.

The officer said gas had to be isolated but no effort had been made to ignite the gas.

The policeman said he would have concerns for the defendant’s “safety” if he returned to the Ballee area following the incident being mentioned on “social media”.

He said the address was at a block of four flats.

Mr Law said there had been “no threats or social media concern regarding any interference with his (O’Boyle’s) wellbeing” and said “that is not a valid reason to keep him in custody”.

The defence barrister said O’Boyle would be working in a charity shop six days a week where he had previously volunteered a couple of days a week.

Mr Law said the defendant enjoyed working in the shop and it was “very good for his mental stability”.

As he had been in custody since July, O’Boyle was “off drugs and alcohol,” the barrister added.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was “not without some hesitation” but he was prepared to admit O’Boyle to bail with an early review.

The defendant was released on his own bail of £500 with a surety from Ms Johnston of £500; he has to attend the charity shop from Monday to Saturday; attend his GP and engage with the Community Addictions Team.

There will also be a 10pm-7am curfew with an electronic tag and he is not to consume alcohol or drugs.

he case was adjourned to October 19.