Northern Ireland news

Co Antrim teen accused of hoax bomb threats to US schools and airports

Ben Megarry leaves court in Belfast. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

A Co Antrim teenager has appeared in court accused of a spate of hoax bomb threats to schools, airports and organisations in America, including Columbine High School.

Ben Megarry, who has autism, is accused of making a total of 23 hoax threats between March and September 2012.

The 19-year old, from Harmin Park in Newtownabbey, pleaded guilty to 14 of the charges, whilst denying a further nine.

Each of the counts states that Megarry "communicated certain informatiom which he knew to be false... with the intention of inducing a false belief that a bomb or other thing was liable to explode or ignite".

The teenager admitted making two hoax bomb threats to Columbine High School in Colorado - scene of a shooting massacre in 1999 - as well as Malibu High School and Chico High School.

Others which received a threat include LAX Airport in Los Angeles, Kansas International and Kansas City Airports, the Royal Stadium in Kansas and a Walmart store in Missouri.

He denied making a third hoax bomb threat to Columbine High School, and of making eight threats to other schools in Texas and California, as well as JFK International Airport and Mann's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Defence barrister Luke Curran spoke of "the complexity of the case" and asked that it be reviewed again later this month.

Judge Sandra Crawford agreed to this request before releasing Megarry on continuing bail.

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