A FATHER threatened to blow up council buildings after social services “took away his children”, a court heard.

Gary McCormick, 42, of Blacon Avenue, told a supervisor at Altcourse Prison that he intended to bomb Cheshire West and Chester Council’s offices when he was released.

He pleaded guilty to threatening to destroy or damage property and was sentenced to a two-year community order.

McCormick was banned from coming within 50 metres of any council premises, including the HQ building in Chester and Ellesmere Port Civic Hall, for five years.

The sentence comes after he was given another community order earlier this year for an “unsophisticated” attempt to make a firearm out of a chair leg, a pipe and a shotgun shell.

That incident in the early hours of Wednesday, May 2, sparked a major response from the emergency services and caused an area of Blacon to be in lockdown for almost eight hours.

Chester Crown Court heard today (Wednesday, November 28) that McCormick made the bomb threats while in prison awaiting trial for the firearm offence, to which he later pleaded guilty.

He was speaking to a female ‘accredited programmes facilitator’ in a one-to-one session.

Prosecuting, Myles Wilson told the court: “The two of them were talking about his life. She was trying to make him realise that he had positives in his life but he was being very negative.

“He said his children had been taken into care, he had no contact with his partner and they had lost their home. He said social services had taken away his children.

“He then made a threat to bomb Chester council offices upon his release.”

The supervisor described his tone as “jovial but serious”, Mr Wilson said.

“She challenged him and he said in a monotone voice, ‘I’m going to do it’,” the barrister added. “She reported the threat to prison security.”

Little was put forward in McCormick’s defence as mitigation and a pre-sentence report by the Probation Service recommended a community order would be the appropriate punishment.

Judge Steven Everett told the defendant: “In custody you made serious threats to damage property. This undoubtedly affected the officer – she was convinced by it.

“You have to think long and hard about what you say to people and the effect upon them.”

As part of the two-year community order, McCormick must carry out 60 days of rehabilitation activity and undertake a ‘thinking skills programme’.

Giving McCormick one final warning, the judge added: “Think carefully before you speak in the future otherwise you and I will meet again – and you will not like that.”

* Following the hearing, a senior police officer confirmed to The Standard that the case related to a recent security alert at the council.

Bosses at Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) had vowed to ramp up security and post guards at a number of locations following a “specific and serious threat” to children’s services staff.

In a statement, council leader Cllr Samantha Dixon said: “The national threat level remains at ‘severe’, and we maintain a high level of vigilance to ensure the safety of our staff and residents.

“Many of our services also create additional risks, because of the nature of the work they do on behalf of our communities. We have recently been made aware of a specific and serious threat against staff.

“As a council we have a duty of care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and cannot take these threats lightly. Therefore, we have taken steps to increase security.”