Hamilton man who planted fake bombs gets 2.5 years in prison

Bradley Taylor with defence lawyer Kerry Burroughs (Conor Whitten)
Bradley Taylor with defence lawyer Kerry Burroughs (Conor Whitten)

A former firefighter who planted four fake bombs in Hamilton has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Twenty-eight-year-old Bradley Taylor was a council parks groundsman and volunteer firefigther who sparked four separate bomb squad callouts by placing fake devices in Hamilton parks last year.

Taylor pleaded guilty in August to four charges of threatening to harm people and property, after pleading not guilty in September of last year.

Each of the fake bomb charges carried a maximum sentence of seven years in jail.

In sentencing him to prison time, Judge Robert Spear said Taylor had shown no remorse, nor offered an explanation for his actions.

"To state the obvious, this was strange behaviour," said Judge Spear. "It may be categorised as attention seeking. And perhaps it was, but I tell you now it was serious and disturbing offending."

Taylor was also convicted of a separate offense of stealing $6000-worth of equipment from the Ngaruawahia Fire Brigade, where he worked as a volunteer. That offending took place over more than three years from April 2012 to June 2015 and was only discovered when police carried out a search warrant for the bomb hoax arrest.

Taylor placed the fake bombs in two Hamilton parks, where he had special access as a Hamilton City Council groundsman. The imitation explosives were made of nails, pipes, wires and matches and were discovered over eight days in June of last year.

The first was placed on a ledge in the women's toilets at Gower Park. It was discovered by a council staff member, who reported it to police.

A second was found in the same place the next day, this time accompanied by a note that read: "Sorry about yesterday. This one is the right one."

A third was placed in nearby Melville Park, and Taylor called police himself after placing a fourth in Gower Park.

Judge Spear noted Taylor thought calling it in would absolve him of any suspicion from police.

"It is clear you felt you would be in the clear and not suspected because of your role as working at the council. But it quickly transpired that the police turned their eyes on to you," said Judge Spear.

Each time, the New Zealand Defence Force Bomb Squad was sent down from Auckland - the last time by helicopter - and parts of Hamilton were put into lockdown.

The Crown argued that had a large effect on the public, and Taylor's offending was premeditated and persistent.

Defence lawyer Kerry Burroughs said Taylor suffered from "troubled thought patterns", perhaps as a result of being overworked as groundsman for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Hamilton in 2015.

Mr Burroughs said the hoaxes were effectively an opportunity for the Bomb Squad to get extra training, and never presented any harm to the public.

But Judge Spear strongly disagreed.

"I reject that completely as having any bearing on this matter at all," said the Judge.

Taylor's sentence included two years imprisonment for the hoaxes and a further six months for theft.