POLICE and Army Technical Officers have declared two security alerts in Newtownabbey this evening were hoaxes.
The ATO were called in to examine suspect devices at St Mary’s Star of the Sea at Whitehouse Park and St Mary’s Hill on the Carnmoney Road.
The hoax alerts came just hours after a man who was involved in a campaign of disruption in Newtownabbey that included bomb hoaxes and a device being left outside St Mary’s On The Hill was jailed.
Police are investigating a possible link between the court case and the church alerts.
‘Real UDA’ man Robert Colgan, 26, from Mournebeg Drive in the Rathcoole estate, admitted a total of 12 offences.
They included possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances and communicating false information causing bomb hoaxes.
He was sentenced to 26 months, half of which will be served in custody.
The remainder will be served on licence.
Belfast Crown Court was told the offences took place between 31 January and 4 March, 2013, and a prosecutor said they were against a backdrop of the union flag protests.
The court heard that while Colgan was not a member of any paramilitary organisation, he made a total of six hoax bomb calls, a majority of which he said were on behalf of the “Real UDA”.
Colgan pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing explosives in suspicious circumstances – namely a blast bomb, and to six charges of communicating false information causing a bomb hoax. He also admitted a further four counts of placing an article causing a bomb hoax.
Colgan was linked by forensic evidence to a crude bomb left at a Catholic church, and linked to a bomb at an Iceland store via a text message he sent that said: “We done (sic) Iceland for a laugh.”
Colgan was arrested on 4 March and when his home was searched mobile phones were handed over that linked him to some of the hoax bomb calls.