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Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Tuesday, 23 April 2024 16:15

Bomb Hoax: The Law in Queensland

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bomb hoax queensland

In an era where public safety is paramount, the law takes a severe stance against actions that threaten communal well-being. Among these, the offence of making a bomb hoax is treated with particular severity. Under section 321A of the Queensland Criminal Code, the act of misleading others into believing that a dangerous or destructive substance is present, constitutes a serious crime.

This blog post aims to dissect the legal framework surrounding bomb hoaxes in Queensland, offering insights into its consequences and highlighting a pivotal case to underscore the judiciary's approach to such offences.


The Law

Section 321A of the Criminal Code articulates the offence of bomb hoaxes, outlining the necessary elements that constitute this crime. The law is clear: anyone who falsely claims or suggests that an explosive or harmful substance has been placed in a location within Queensland commits a criminal offence. The legislative intent is to deter individuals from inducing panic or fear through misinformation, a goal that aligns with broader societal aims of ensuring public safety and order.

The statute mandates a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for those found guilty of stating that a bomb exists while someone who sends or places an article or substance designed to make people think it is a bomb faces a maximum 7 years in prison.


Legal Requirements for Conviction

There are two separate charges under the act;

  • People who send or place a substance designed to look or act like a bomb (section 321A(1))
  • People who just say that a bomb is in a particular location (section 321A(2))

Lets look at each charge.


Sending or placing a fake bomb

The law states it is an offence nny person who—

(a) places an article or substance in any place; or

(b) sends an article or substance in any way;

with the intention of inducing in another person a belief that the article or substance is likely to explode, ignite, or discharge a dangerous or noxious substance, commits a crime.

The maximum penalty is 7 years in prison.

To be found guilty of the offence the prosecution would need to prove that:

  • The defendant placed or sent the article (or substance) in the place; and

  • The defendant intended to induce in another person a belief that the article (or substance) was likely to explode (or ignite or discharge a dangerous or noxious substance)

It is not necessary that the prosecution prove that some particular person was intended to be induced to the belief. It is sufficient that the defendant intended any other person or persons to be induced to that belief.

It is immaterial that the article (or substance) was not in fact likely to explode (or ignite or discharge a dangerous or noxious substance).


Saying there is a bomb

For a conviction under section 321A(2), the prosecution must satisfy three critical criteria beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The Act of Making a False Statement: It must be proven that the defendant intentionally conveyed false information or made a statement to another individual.

  1. Knowledge of Falsity: The individual accused of the hoax must have known, or believed, the information or statement to be false at the time of communication.

  1. Intent to Induce Belief in the Threat: There must be a clear intention behind the defendant's actions to make another person believe that an explosive, noxious substance, or other dangerous items are present in a place within Queensland.

It is noteworthy that the perpetrator's location during the commission of the offence is irrelevant under the statute, placing emphasis on the conveyed threat's impact rather than the defendant's physical presence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.


A Notable Case:

The case of R v Tobin [2008] QCA 54 involved an appeal against a sentence in the Supreme Court of Queensland - Court of Appeal. The appellant, Martin Francis Anthony Tobin, was convicted on his pleas of guilty to two counts of bomb threats. Initially, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years. However, the sentence was appealed on the grounds that it was manifestly excessive considering the circumstances, including significant mitigating factors and the fact that the bomb threat was not taken seriously.

The appeal was allowed, and the Court ordered that no conviction be recorded. Instead, Tobin was sentenced to probation for six months with conditions, including compliance with anger management and alcohol management as directed by an authorized Corrective Services Officer. 


Which Courts hears the charge?

While the matter starts in the Magistrates court it must be finalised in the District Court.


Are there any defences to a bomb hoax charge?

Possible defences include;

  • It was not the defendant who made the false statement about the bomb or planted the article pretending to be a bomb or the police cant prove it was

  • The defendant did not intend anyone to believe there was a bomb

  • Mistake of fact


Childrens Court

Children (those under 18 years old) are often charged with this offence especially when it involves a bomb hoax at a school.

Children are treated differently than adults and go through the children’s court and not the adult courts.

The charge is however treated very seriously by the children’s court.



If you are charged with making bomb hoax it is critical that you get legal advice BEFORE talking to the police.  Never ever talk to police without first getting legal advice.

A key component of the charge is the intention to make people believe a bomb exists and if you say the wrong thing to the police this may be easy to prove.


Engaging Clarity Law to act for you

Engaging us gives you the best chance at trying to avoid serving time in prison.   We are one of the leading criminal law firms in South East Queensland.  Just some of the benefits of us acting for you include:

  1. we know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome

  2. we have good relationships with the prosecutors meaning we can often have them not seek an actual prison sentence

  3. we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible

  4. engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously

  5. you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court

  6. unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests


How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further free information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

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We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide free initial information to assist you. If you want to engage us then great, we will give you a fixed price for our services so you will know with certainty what we will cost. All the money goes into a trust account monitored by the Queensland Law Society and cannot be taken out without your permission or until we are legally allowed to.

Read 35 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 April 2024 16:23
Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.