AN alcoholic who made three hoax 999 calls in a day – despite being on a suspended sentence for making previous bogus calls – has been jailed.
Christine Carroll called out the police once and the ambulance service twice during May 31 after concocting fake emergencies.
The 44-year-old was arrested after paramedics and the police responded to the third call – in which she said she was going to commit suicide – and instead found her drunkenly listening to music and dozing on a sofa.
During the previous calls, she said a friend was unconscious – but an ambulance turned up to find Carroll pretending to be out cold – and she then told 999 call handlers that she was seriously ill, but when paramedics arrived she was drunk and abusive.
Carroll, of Cheviot Road, South Shields, pleaded guilty to persistently making use of a public communication network to cause annoyance at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
The conviction put her in breach of a suspended sentence that the court gave her in April for the same offence after making more than 30 nuisance 999 and 101 calls.
That was the second time she was convicted of the crime – the first coming in June last year.
Yesterday, magistrates jailed Carroll for 20 weeks.
Sentencing Carroll, chairwoman of the bench Yvonne Cracknell said: “This is your third offence for the same matter and you’re already on a suspended sentence for it.
“You are diverting the emergency services away from real emergencies, and we feel this is so serious that the custody threshold has been crossed.”
Neil Hodgson, defending, said: “She has all kinds of difficulties and problems.
“She had no convictions until 10 years ago, then had a messy divorce that led her to drink and caused her to get into trouble with the police.
“Then she sorted herself out and there was a five-year gap when she wasn’t in trouble. However, she got in with the wrong man and the problems came back.
“She knows she is drinking in the last-chance saloon, but does not want to go to prison.
“When she calls 999 she believes there is an emergency, but her judgement is clouded by alcohol.
“She can’t remember doing any of this, but accepts she did.”
South Tyneside Acting Chief Inspector Steve Appleton said: “Any malicious call that wastes police time, and prevents officers from helping people in genuine need, can potentially put lives at risk.
“The emergency services have to prioritise how they deal with calls, and the main issue for us is how such hoax calls could cost lives in a real emergency situation.
“We take incidents of this type, where the 999 number is used persistently unnecessarily, very seriously and will prosecute when we have the necessary evidence.
“We’d also like to remind genuine callers that the number to call for non-emergencies and to speak to a local officer is 101.”