Suspended jail term for making false calls

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A Larne man who binged out on ‘Frosty Jack’s’ before wasting the time of ambulance staff and police has been given a suspended jail term.

Jamie Ian Hastings (28), of Drumahoe Gardens, sank nine litres of the cider before he pestered ambulance staff with false alarms.

At an earlier court he pleaded guilty to engaging in ‘persistent improper use of a communications network’ to cause ‘annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety’ which happened over a fourday period last November.

At one stage he called an ambulance claiming he had ‘self-harmed’ but then refused to travel to hospital and later he phoned police to ask for a lift to a friend’s house.

At Ballymena Court in January, District Judge Peter King adjourned sentencing until March and warned Hastings that if he turned into a “persistent hoax caller” he could be jailed. At that hearing, Judge King said the NHS and Ambulance Service were under pressure and he made reference to a case in England at the time where an ambulance took almost four hours to get to a woman who died.

A prosecutor told the January court that Hastings made a 999 call to Ambulance Control saying he had self-harmed and an ambulance and police went to his home but the defendant then declined medical assistance and refused to travel to hospital.

A few hours later the defendant phoned police asking for a “lift to a friend’s house” and an hour after that he made a third 999 call saying he “wanted to kill himself”.

The prosecutor said during a police interview the defendant said he was an alcoholic and was on a binge, having downed three three-litre bottles of Frosty Jack’s cider.

Hastings told police he had not taken his medication and had no clear recollection of everything that happened.

The prosecutor said Hastings had shown remorse for making the calls and “diverting emergency services from possible emergencies”.

In January, defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said the defendant was engaging with addiction and mental health teams and the incidents had been a “wake-up call”.

The solicitor said Hastings had been “suitably chastened” and there had been no further calls and the defendant acknowledged the emergency services do not have the resources to “run after him”.

Hastings was back in court on Thursday for sentencing and Judge King said he had a letter from the Ambulance Service which confirmed that apart from one genuine call Hastings had not made any further time-wasting calls.

The judge said the defendant had shown an ability to stay out of trouble and imposed a three-month jail term, suspended for 18 months.