Man who put explosive device on bus is jailed for 8½ years

Donal Billings (66) made hoax bomb calls during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ireland

Donal Billings:  the judge said Billings had placed a highly dangerous explosive on a public transport vehicle containing an innocent driver and many passengers. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Donal Billings: the judge said Billings had placed a highly dangerous explosive on a public transport vehicle containing an innocent driver and many passengers. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A man who put an incendiary device on a Dublin-bound passenger bus and made bomb threats during the State visit of Queen Elizabeth five years ago has been jailed for 8½ years.

Donal Billings (66), of St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, Co Longford, was found guilty last month by the three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court of the unlawful possession of an explosive substance at Longford railway station car park on May 16th, 2011.

Billings was further convicted of four offences under the Criminal Law Act of 1976 of knowingly making false reports tending to show that an offence had been committed. The sentences are to run concurrently .

He was found guilty of making a false report within the State on May 16th, 2011, that bombs had been placed at Busáras in Dublin and at Sinn Féin’s headquarters.

He was also convicted of making a false report on May 18th that two mortars were set for Dublin Castle, and with making a false report on May 20th that two bombs had been placed in toilets at Cork airport. These coincided with the State banquet for the queen and her flight out from the airport, but in both cases nothing was found.

Criminality

On May 16th, 2011, a caller to Longford Garda station said there was a bomb on a Dublin-bound Corduff Travel passenger bus, a second bomb on a bus at Busáras, and a third bomb at Sinn Féin headquarters in Dublin.

The Corduff Travel bus was stopped at Maynooth, and searched by gardaí, who found a suspicious object, comprised of gunpowder and a two-litre bottle of petrol, in the luggage compartment.

Dangerous act

This was an “outrageous, highly irresponsible and dangerous act” which “recklessly exposed passengers, staff and members of the emergency services to very significant risk of serious injury or death”.

He said the bomb was intended to give credence to further hoax calls Billings planned to make. Gardaí also searched Sinn Feín offices and another bus. Nothing was found.

The judge said mitigating factors were his contribution to the smooth running of the trial and his age.