Bail in bomb hoax case

Lee Javisson Arnold, 35, appeared in Summary Court on Monday facing a charge of bomb hoax that arose from calls to 911 allegedly made by him on 14 March.

Defence Attorney John Furniss agreed that the charge can be dealt with only in Grand Court, but said he hoped to listen to the 911 tapes before the matter was transmitted to the higher court.

Magistrate Nova Hall said she did not see any reason not to send the matter up, since that would not be a bar to Mr. Furniss taking instructions from his client. The next court date was then set for Friday, 1 April, in Grand Court.

Mr. Furniss applied for bail, advising the court that Lee did not accept or remember making the calls, although he did accept that the voice sounded like his.

He said his client had been drinking and remembered making two phone calls to 911 asking for help; he said he was given the phone number for the hospital.

The attorney described Lee as a steady worker who did not drink during the week but seemed to be a binge drinker on weekends.

He pointed out that although the charge was serious, it was not necessarily a matter for which imprisonment would be imposed if there were a finding of guilt.

He cited a previous bomb hoax case involving a man who called police while in a drunken condition; that defendant was sentenced to a period of probation.

Crown Counsel Marilyn Brandt objected to bail, pointing out that Lee, as a Trinidadian national, would be a flight risk.

She detailed four separate calls received by 911 between 5pm and 6pm. In the first, the caller said it was a wrong number. In the second, the caller asked for a psychotherapist; since 911 deals with emergencies only, he was given a number for the hospital. The third time, the caller asked to speak to an inspector and he was told to contact police. Ms Brandt quoted his response as, “I will rip this place up. This is a bomb threat.” The caller also allegedly said he was a member of jihad and had planted C4 [a plasticised explosive] in the Cayman Islands.

During the fourth call, he made a remark about blasting everyone. Asked where the bombs were, the caller disconnected the line, Ms Brandt said.

The magistrate pointed out that a bomb hoax is a serious offence that can attract custody. The alleged actions, which had tied up the emergency resources of 911 and the police, could not be condoned, she said.

She noted the wording of the offence: Whoever communicates any information which he knows or believes to be false to another person, with the intention of inducing in him or any other person, a false belief that a bomb or other thing liable to explode or ignite is present in any place or location whatever, is guilty of an offence.

She granted bail, but with strict conditions. Lee is to surrender his travel documents and not attempt to leave the jurisdiction; he requires a surety in the sum of $5,000; he is under curfew from 10pm to 5.30am and must attend drug/alcohol counselling. Finally, he is prohibited from entering any liquor-licensed premises.

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