Woman pleaded guilty to 2010 bomb hoax at bank
After pleading guilty to perpetrating a bomb hoax in 2010, Eliza Rivers was sentenced on 15 June to probation with conditions that include a curfew from 6.30pm every night for a year. Rivers was 20 at the time of her offence.
At the sentencing hearing, Crown Counsel Candia James said an employee at the Safehaven branch of First Caribbean Bank received a phone call at 9.17am on 15 March, 2010. A female voice said “There is a bomb planted in all First Caribbean banks. You have one hour to get out. This is a first warning.”
The employee contacted the acting manager, Ms James related. Ten minutes later the employee, who was still inside the bank, received another call. The same female voice said, “I would advise you guys to take this threat seriously.” Asked her name, the caller said, “Don’t worry about that. I’m giving you guys half an hour to evacuate.”
All three branches of the bank were evacuated, Ms James said. Police attended all three locations and searched the buildings but nothing was found.
The Joint Intelligence Unit traced the phone calls to a particular number, which was subscribed to by Rivers. When officers found her, she admitted making the calls.
Defence attorney John Furniss described his client’s state of mind at the time. He said she had been having arguments with a man who was then her boyfriend. The man expected Rivers to pay for a vehicle for him because he believed she had money in the bank and could afford it. He told her to call the bank using speakerphone so he could hear the conversation. She said she didn’t want to, but was afraid of him.
While he was getting ready to go to the bank with her, Rivers made the threatening calls. “She was creating a situation where the demands of the boyfriend could not be fulfilled,” Mr. Furniss said.
Since the offence, she had stopped seeing that boyfriend and was now in a stable relationship with someone else. She was holding a steady job and had been in contact regularly with the probation officer writing social inquiry reports on her. An assessment put her at low risk for re-offending. She had pleaded guilty in March 2011, but sentencing was delayed by health issues and the need for other reports, Mr. Furniss summarised.
Justice Alexander Henderson indicated that the threat was not sophisticated. The facts outlined showed that the offence was committed by someone who was likely distraught, was not thinking clearly and had not planned the offence. The then-boyfriend was pressuring her to spend a substantial amount of money on his behalf against her will.
The judge said the explanation he was given was that she felt if she made the threat against all the branches, that would prevent the boyfriend from getting his hands on her money. More than two years have passed since the incident and Rivers has been receiving counselling, the judge noted. She had no previous convictions and appeared to have cooperated fully with the probations services.
For those reasons he accepted the recommendation for a non-custodial sentence, placing her on probation for two years. During that time she is to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, report to her probation officer as required and participate in such treatment as required. She is not to consume or be in possession of any alcohol or any unlawful drug.
Further, she is to remain within her residence from 6.30pm to 6.30am for the first year of her probation. “You may be out to shop and work, but you must be in at night,” the judge told Rivers.
He warned her not to breach any of these conditions. “I generally put people in jail when they breach their probation,” he said.