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Sunday 4 December 2016

'Profoundly stupid' Islamic State bomb hoax cost Intel over 6,000 production hours

Aaron O'Neill at court
Aaron O'Neill at court

A former sub-contractor for Intel who asked his friend to make a hoax bomb call to the company because he didn't want to go work may be ordered to carry out community service.

Aaron O'Neill (20) had been out drinking and taking tablets with his friend Colin Hammond (21) when he decided he didn't want to go in the next day.

He paid his friend to make the call from a payphone outside Hammond's home.

The resulting 999 calls shut down a motorway, disrupted air traffic control and prevented 4,000 Intel staff from going to work. Garda Eamonn McFadden said that at, a "conservative estimate", the incident lost Intel 6,000 hours of production.

O'Neill, of Chieftains Drive, Balbriggan, and Hammond of Bath Road, also in Balbriggan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to making a false report on the Bath Road on January 13, 2015. Neither man has previous convictions.

Hammond told the operator there were bombs at Intel which would go off in 12 hours.

"You will not find them. This is a warning, we're everywhere now," Hammond told emergency services When asked who was making the call, he replied: "Islamic State."

Described by Judge Martin Nolan as "profoundly stupid", Hammond claimed he had been paid to make the call.

He was ordered to carry out 200 hours community service in lieu of a two-year prison sentence when his case was dealt with in October.

Yesterday, Judge Nolan said he saw "no reason to depart from the same sentence" for O'Neill, but adjourned the case to January to get a report from the Probation Service to see if he was suitable for community service.

Strange

He said it, "to put it politely", had been a misconceived plan and accepted that the men hadn't envisaged the calls to have the effect they did.

"It is a very, very strange way to avoid going to work," Judge Nolan said.

Gda McFadden told Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, that O'Neill was questioned and made a cautioned statement but took no responsibility, claiming he didn't know who made the calls and didn't ask anyone to make them.

He was arrested in March when he admitted that it had been his idea. He said he had taken tablets, didn't want to go to work the following day and asked Hammond to make the calls.

He said there had been no set plan, but it was decided that 6am was a good time to make the call and that it should be made from the phone-box on Hammond's street.

He told gardai he was sorry, but added that he didn't think it was going to be a big deal.

Gda McFadden said that 300 employees were evacuated from Intel and a further 3,700 staff were prevented from entering the site.

He told Mr Carroll that the M4 motorway was closed and there was also disruption to air traffic control in the location before authorities realised it was a hoax.

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