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Man is fined for wasting terror squad's time
A JEALOUS hoaxer who sparked a major investigation by the region’s specialist anti-terrorism squad was yesterday fined a total of £385.
The squad wasted 131 man hours and spent more than £2,200 trying to identify the man who Belfast resident Jim Devlin suggested was in danger – after he phoned RAF bases 11 times.
Roger Woodward, prosecuting, said the 50-year-old believed Paul Willey – York’s street cleaning supervisor who had spent three weeks in the RAF in 1988 – was an active serviceman.
Devlin made anonymous calls to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, near York, and RAF Church Fenton, near Tadcaster, saying that a member of their personnel, recently returned from a tour of duty flying Apache helicopters in Libya, faced danger if he visited his girlfriend in a “95 per cent Republican area” of Belfast.
The calls were prompted after Devlin learnt that Mr Willey was visiting his wife of 21 years, Mary, in Belfast.
Northallerton magistrates heard Devlin was evasive about the exact nature of the threat.
He made a total of 11 telephone calls to the RAF between last September 26 and October 8, during which time the matter was referred to the counter-terrorism office at West Yorkshire Police.
In a later call, he revealed the man’s name was Paul and he was to be collected from Belfast airport by his girlfriend. From that officers were eventually able to track Mr Willey down.
“One hundred and thirty one man hours have been spent simply identifying Paul Willey as the subject of the case,” said Mr Woodward.
“That doesn’t count any time spent by the RAF, members of the Ministry of Defence, Belfast Police and North Yorkshire Police.”
In mitigation, the court heard Devlin made the calls out of genuine concern for his family.
Mary Devlin had since ended the relationship with Mr Willey, who received an MBE for services to local government in 2007, and now has a good relationship with her former husband.
Devlin, who admitted making the hoax calls, and was fined £250 and ordered to pay £120 costs and a victim surcharge of £15.