Bomb hoaxer mom placed on probation

| 19/06/2012

(CNS): A 22-year-old woman who placed a hoax bomb threat call to First Caribbean Bank was given probation by a Grand Court judge Friday after the court heard she was suffering “a major episode of depression” at the time of the crime. Eliza Rivers, who is the mother of two small children, pleaded guilty to the offence over two years ago in March 2010, but as a result of difficulties with psychiatric reports, her sentencing was delayed on a number of occasions. After finally hearing the facts of the case Justice Alex Henderson handed down two years of probation and a home curfew for one year and warned that if she breached the conditions he would send her to jail.

Although considered a serious offence, the court heard that Rivers had made two suicide attempts days before the bomb hoax. Her defence counsel said that Rivers had placed the call to the bank where she kept her money in order to try and create a diversion at all of the First Caribbean branches to prevent her abusive boyfriend from getting her money.

John Furnis said that his client was under tremendous pressure from her partner to get money from the bank to give to him and was suffering from a severe depression as a result of that abusive relationship.

She made two calls to the bank, the first one telling them that there was a bomb in all of the First Caribbean branches on the island and giving them one hour to evacuate. Rivers than called back ten minutes later stating that the staff should take the threat seriously, this time giving them half an hour to leave.

The banks were evacuated and searches of all the branches were undertaken but nothing was discovered. Since Rivers had used her own phone to place the hoax call, the police had little problem tracking her down. When they arrive at her place of residence on the evening of the hoax they found that she was not home as she had been taken into hospital and was receiving mental health treatment once again for her suicidal tendencies and serious depression.

Despite her condition she was questioned by police and Rivers admitted making the calls because of the mental health issue, though she was not arrested until sometime later.

Since the incident, the court heard, Rivers had left her abusive boyfriend and was now in a new stable relationship. She had received treatment for her condition and was recovering well. She was in employment and had no previous criminal record of any kind the court heard, and was rated as having an extremely low level -risk of reoffending.

The judge noted the strong recommendations of the probation service for a non-custodial sentence and said “I am persuaded that this is the correct way to proceed,” as he ordered the two year probation with a 6pm until 6am curfew. He also said that she must not consume drugs or alcohol during her probation period and warned her not to break the conditions.

“I generally put people in jail when they breach a probation order,” Justice Henderson warned.

In arriving at his decision the judge explained that he believed Rivers had committed the offence during “a major episode of depression” when in her disturbed state of mind she felt the call would prevent her boyfriend from getting his hands on her money. He said it was clear that she was distraught at the time of the offence, not thinking clearly and the crime was not planned.

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