‘There’s a bomb in my bag’: Drugs blamed for bizarre threats
CHAOS erupted in the fruit and vege aisle when a shopper threw his bag on the floor and yelled out that it had a bomb in it.
Woolworths Supermarket staff then struggled with the offender when he grabbed an 81-year-old man, threatening ‘to break his neck’.
Ipswich District Court on Thursday heard Roberto Ruiz was affected by drugs or alcohol when he committed the bizarre and frightening offences.
Roberto Gabriel Ruiz, 45, pleaded guilty to committing a bomb hoax at Goodna on Tuesday, May 5; and serious assault of a person aged 60 or over.
Crown prosecutor Cameron Wilkins said Ruiz had previous convictions for minor drug offences, but nothing of the magnitude of this offence.
Mr Wilkins said on the day of the incident, Ruiz entered Woolworths and asked staff to call an ambulance because he was suffering a medical episode.
Ruiz was heard making irrational comments before he walked into the fruit and veges area and yelled out that he had a bomb.
Mr Wilkins said Ruiz dropped the bag on the floor, then walked to another aisle where he sat on the floor and continued yelling.
Woolworths staff organised the evacuation of the store, but as shoppers were leaving Ruiz walked up behind an 81-year-old man and grabbed him in a chokehold.
Ruiz was heard yelling: “Don’t come near me or I’ll break the bastard’s neck”.
Staff tried to pull Ruiz off the frightened elderly man who, in the struggle fell, to the floor and injured his knees.
Police rushed to the scene, where they discovered Ruiz’s threat was a hoax.
Mr Wilkins said Ruiz was arrested but was unable to be interviewed due to his state of intoxication.
He spent the following two days in custody.
Defence barrister Daniel Boddice said the conduct was very much out of character for Ruiz.
“The court shouldn’t be concerned that he is likely to reoffend,” Mr Boddice said.
“There is no history for violence. Although the assault would have been horrific for the poor man injured in the scuffle.”
Judge Dennis Lynch QC noted the elderly man suffered cuts to his knee and a split lip, with the leg injury bleeding profusely.
“Your behaviour was very alarming to everyone,” Judge Lynch told Ruiz.
He said Ruiz, who was a father of three, had committed no offences for 22 years and worked as a stone mason and then a kitchen designer.
He began using methylamphetamine to self-medicate for anxiety, but his use of the drug resulted in the loss of his business.
Judge Lynch said he took into account Ruiz’s recent efforts to become drug free.
Ruiz was convicted and sentenced to an 18-month supervised probation order in which he will take part in counselling and drug programs.