Drunken phone pest made 17 nuisance 999 calls in a week

Mark Peel has been warned that he faces jail if he wastes police time again.
Mark Peel has been warned that he faces jail if he wastes police time again.

A drunken phone pest made 17 time-wasting telephone calls to police in South Tyneside in seven days.

Magistrates in South Tyneside heard that Mark Peel was living in a hostel in the borough at the time of the offences in March and drinking up to 12 litres of cider a day.

Pick up the phone and ring the police falsely again, and you will go to prison.

District Judge Helen Cousins

Peel admitted persistently making use of a public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience and unnecessary anxiety.

The 50-year-old also admitted breaching his bail conditions.

The court heard that Peel usually made the calls while drunk and generally demanded that the police take him to Blyth in Northumberland, where he now lives.

Peel called from a telephone kiosk in Blyth on Tuesday, claiming he had been made homeless.

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “Essentially he rang the emergency services 17 times when there has not been an emergency, and on each and every occasion, the police have had to go out, so you can imagine the waste of police time it has caused.

“On each occasion, he essentially asks to be taken back to Blyth, where he used to live and where he lives now. The calls were usually made when he was drunk.”

Kate Lewis, defending, said: “This man has struggled with alcohol for a number of years.

“At one point, he was consuming 12 litres of cider a day. He has reduced that substantially, but he is still drinking significantly.”

District Judge Helen Cousins gave Peel, of Cowpen Road, Blyth, a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

She also ordered him to pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

She told him: “This caused huge inconvenience. What if somebody really needed a policeman, and instead they are following up on the ridiculous phone calls you made?

“Pick up the phone and ring the police falsely again, and you will go to prison.”

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Any malicious call which wastes police time and prevents officers from helping people in genuine need can potentially put lives at risk.

“We take incidents of hoax calls very seriously and will prosecute when we have the necessary evidence.”