Northern Ireland

Ballymena man who caused bomb alert and six hour stand-off with police jailed

More than 60 police officers, including the PSNI armed response unit and specialist negotiators, were called to the Crebilly Road

Ryan Connolly has been handed an eight-month jail sentence
Ryan Connolly has been handed an eight-month jail sentence

A Ballymena man who caused a bomb alert and a six hour stand-off with 64 police officers including the PSNI armed response unit and specialist negotiators has been handed an eight month jail sentence.

Jailing Ryan Connolly at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, District Judge Nigel Broderick told the 34-year-old while he accepted his mental health breakdown had been exacerbated by alcohol, “I’m entirely satisfied that the custody threshold is crossed”.

Appearing at court by video-link from prison Connolly entered guilty pleas to causing a bomb hoax and causing criminal damage to the windows of his home on 3 January 2024.

A prosecuting lawyer outlined how police were alerted to a “concern for safety” emergency call from Connolly’s brother after the defendant sent him a picture of what appeared to be a homemade pipe bomb.

Neighbouring homes on the Crebilly Road in Ballymena had to be evacuated and the court heard that when police arrived at the scene, “the defendant stated that he had an improved explosive device and he wanted the police to shoot him”.

Specialist PSNI firearms officers at the scene during the stand-off in January. PICTURE: ALAN LEWIS?PHOTOPRESS/BELFAST

Holding a piece of broken glass to his own neck, Connolly also claimed he had drank bleach and the PPS lawyer outlined how the six hour stand-off involved a total of 64 police officers including the ARU and specialist negotiators.

It only came to an end, she told the court, when Connolly was tasered and due to his claims about ingesting bleach, he was taken to hospital.

Meanwhile, his home was searched and police found a metal pipe “that appeared to look like a pipe bomb” and numerous windows had been smashed amounting to some £1,351 of damage.

During police interviews Connolly “made full admissions” and the court heard he has previous convictions.

One of those convictions, a previous court heard, related to an incident at the Lighthouse Hostel and a seven hour stand-off which brought Ballymena town centre “to a complete stand off” on 31 May 2023.

In court on Tuesday, defence counsel Brendan Kearney lamented the fact that despite being in custody since January, none of Connolly’s mental health issues have been addressed.

But he emphasised, however, that Connolly had had a “period of sobriety” in that time.

Imposing an eight-month jail sentence, DJ Broderick conceded that despite the damage to the windows “there is no realistic prospect of meeting a compensation order”.