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Nuisance calls to RAF sparked alert
10:09am Friday 27th July 2012 in News
A MAN who sparked a terror alert after a celebrated York street cleaner developed a relationship with his estranged wife is facing a jail sentence.
Belfast resident Jim Devlin, 50, phoned North Yorkshire RAF bases 11 times between September 26 and October 8 last year.
He told RAF officers that a member of their personnel who had recently returned from a tour of duty flying Apache helicopters over Libya faced danger if he visited his girlfriend in a “95 per cent Republican area” of Belfast.
Devlin told an RAF officer: “You know the score. People from the military wouldn’t be welcome.”
Northallerton Magistrates Court heard Devlin refused to give his name or details of who faced the threat in the calls to officers at RAF Church Fenton and RAF Linton-on-Ouse and appeared evasive about the nature of the threat.
Roger Woodward, prosecuting, said the series of warnings sparked a lengthy investigation by the North-East Counter Terrorism Unit costing thousands of pounds.
He said Devlin eventually told an RAF officer the man facing danger was called Paul, and Paul Willey, of Burnholme Drive, York, was tracked down after booking a Jet2 flight to Belfast from Leeds Bradford Airport .
It emerged Mr Willey, who was awarded an MBE for services to local government in 2007, had started a relationship with Devlin’s wife of 21 years, Mary.
Devlin had understood Mr Willey – City of York Council ’s street cleaning supervisor, who had spent three weeks in the RAF in 1988 before leaving a training course – was an active serviceman. After being questioned by the police, Devlin, of Sunnymede Park, Dunmurry, said he had made the calls because he was concerned for his son’s safety.
Mr Woodward said Devlin, who admitted making hoax phone calls, had intended to cause problems between Mr Willey and Mrs Devlin.
He said: “We can only speculate whether Paul Willey exaggerated his history in the RAF or whether Mr Devlin has made up the claim.”
Sean Smith, mitigating, said: “There has clearly been a lot of information that has passed between people that has led Mr Devlin to believe Paul Willey was a member of the RAF.”
Adjourning sentencing until September 6 for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, presiding magistrate Catherine Hall told Devlin: “We are looking at a starting point of 12 weeks’ custody. All options remain open to us.”