Firebomb threat at Sunderland council offices

The Sunderland City Council customer service centre / Access Housing in Fawcett Street.
The Sunderland City Council customer service centre / Access Housing in Fawcett Street.

A homeless man said he would firebomb a council office after threatening a member of staff with a bottle.

Stephen Adam Moffat, 43, walked into the Sunderland City Council customer service centre in Fawcett Street at 12.50 on April 22, Sunderland magistrates heard.

He pulled out a bottle of rose wine from his sleeve. I stopped back a bit to keep my distance and in his way to the door he made a threat to firebomb the building. He said ‘I’ll come back and firebomb this place’

Witness

He was observed by a security guard who was aware of him from previous encounters at the premises, which also include Access Housing, prosecutor Lisa Down said.

Ms Down said Moffat appeared drunk when he picked up a free telephone and demanded he speak to the housing team, before slamming the phone down in anger.

“He then makes threats to damage the property,” she added.

Moffat, who has a bail address in Strathearn Way, Fawdon, Newcastle, had pleaded not guilty to an offence of threatening to damage or destroy property on April 23 and the case was listed for trial.

However, he failed to turn up for the trial and the case went ahead in his absence.

Giving evidence for the prosecution, the council’s security officer said: “I was sitting at the security desk monitoring the CCTV when Mr Moffat came in.

“We’ve had dealings with him before, so I put the cameras on him.

“He went to the free phones to speak to the housing team. He became aggravated and slammed it down, then went to sit in the window.

“I knew little things set him off, because that is just the demeanour that he has.

“He’s been told previously that he has to go to Newcastle City Council, because he has an ongoing case there, and Sunderland City Council can’t help him.

“I went across to the table and reiterated what we had already told him.

“His whole demeanour changed – he was aggravated and aggressive. He stood up and told us he was going to knock us out and was effing and blinding.

“I said ‘you have got to leave’ because there were people in the customer service centre and the staff in reception felt threatened.

“He pulled out a bottle of rose wine from his sleeve. I stopped back a bit to keep my distance and in his way to the door he made a threat to firebomb the building. He said ‘I’ll come back and firebomb this place’”

Convicting him of the offence, District Judge Roger Elsey said: “I am satisfied he did in these circumstances, intend that people would fear the threat would have been carried out.

“I issue a warrant, not backed with bail.”