A 49-year-old woman came before Castlebar District Court this week accused of making a hoax bomb warning about a device ‘primed and ready to go off’ at Downing Street around the time of Margaret Thatcher’s death in April 2013.
The charge against Kathleen Kelly, of 2 Pound Grove, Newport Road, Castlebar, to which she pleaded not guilty, was dismissed by Judge Kevin Kilraine.
The judge found that the prosecution did not provide evidence that there was in fact no device at the location on that date.
He said the charge related specifically to a ‘false warning’ and there was no evidence before the court to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the warning was indeed false.
The court heard a 45-second 999 call was received at Letterkenny Garda Station on April 13, 2013.
The female caller said: “There is a device, primed and ready to go off, at Whitehall, No 10 Downing Street, for what she did to the hunger strikers.” The caller then hung up.
Investigating gardaí in Donegal secured the appropriate permissions from Garda HQ to trace the call and secure the telephone records.
They tracked the mobile phone used to make the call to a pre-paid Vodafone account registered to Ms Kelly.
Ms Kelly was interviewed at Castlebar Garda Station on November 2, 2013.
She said she did not make the call but said she knew the dates in question were around the time of Margaret Thatcher’s death.
When asked if she was ever involved in any republican activity, Ms Kelly said she purchased An Phoblacht while living in Manorhamilton a number of years ago but that was about it.
She told gardaí she lived alone with her cat. She said she attends AA and had lost her phone a number of times at her meetings, including around the time the 999 call was made.
She said she did not remember making the call and she would remember making such a call if she did.
When gardaí played the recorded 999 call to Ms Kelly, she admitted she recognised the voice as her own.
Judge Kilraine noted that while Ms Kelly had been present in court earlier that day and had indicated she would plead not guilty and represent herself, she was absent from court for the proceedings.
He said he had to be conscious of that fact and the strictest proofs were necessary.
He said it probably was a false report but he could not say that beyond all reasonable doubt without any evidence before the court.