herald

Friday 19 July 2019

'We are ISIS, we'll bomb your hospital' - man's Bin Laden letter threat

Colin Joyce sent threats to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London (pictured) and referred to Osama Bin Laden
Colin Joyce sent threats to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London (pictured) and referred to Osama Bin Laden

An Irish medical school dropout sent a sinister letter to a British hospital, claiming to be from Islamic State and threatening to bomb it.

Colin Joyce (38) sent the menacing package, which also referenced Osama Bin Laden and the IRA, to St Bartholomew's Hospital in central London in November 2015.

He was spared jail when Judge Michael Walsh put him on a two-year probation bond at Dublin District Court.

Joyce, of The Kingsley, Carrigrohane Road, Cork, pleaded guilty to sending a menacing letter, under the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act.

Plea

Detective Garda JP Croke said the Director of Public Prosecutions had initially directed trial on indictment, but later decided that the case could be dealt with at district court level, on a plea of guilty only, subject to a judge considering the issue of jurisdiction.

Det Gda Croke then outlined the prosecution's case.

He said on a date in November 2015, Joyce sent an envelope by post to the director of St Bartholomew's Hospital in central London.

This arrived on November 24 and contained a letter stating: "We are Isis, we will bomb your hospital if you don't stop supporting Americans in Syria."

The letter stated that this was for "the death of Osama Bin Laden", and that they were colluding with Irish republicans and wanted all troops withdrawn from the North.

The letter asked to "please show this to the British authorities", referred to the IRA and the Palestine Liberation Organisation and contained a photo of Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 ringleaders.

It also contained a black powder, which was found to be poppy seeds. Fingerprints taken from the letter matched Joyce, who was subsequently interviewed and charged.

Judge Walsh accepted jurisdiction to deal with the case at district court level. Joyce had previously been given a suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for a similar offence, the judge was told. He had subsequently spent time on remand in Cloverhill Prison, and at the Central Mental Hospital.

Defence solicitor Robert Purcell said the accused was having "florid mental health issues at the time". Judge Walsh said reports had been presented to the court which had been "very helpful" and showed that there was "light at the end of the tunnel" for Joyce, who was "doing very well now".

Imposing a probation bond, he said the terms were that the accused must engage with a probation officer, abstain from intoxicants, and attend all recommended counselling and treatment.

The judge asked Joyce if he understood the conditions.

"Yes, judge," he replied.

The judge said: "I wish you and your family well. Continue with your treatment and there will be light at the end of the tunnel."

During previous cases, the circuit court heard Joyce had autism spectrum disorder and had attended the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, but had not completed his medical degree.

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