PlayStation fantasist called two ambulances to 999 shooting hoax

David Helens, leaving South Tyneside Magistrates Court
David Helens, leaving South Tyneside Magistrates Court

A CHARITY shop worker who made a malicious 999 call to the ambulance service claiming his friend had been shot in the chest had been playing a violent video shooting game on his computer shortly before, a court was told.

During a frantic 12-minute call, David Helens told a call handler with the North East Ambulance Service that his pal “Max” had suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and was “slipping in and out of consciousness”.

Later Helens, 25, of Trinity Walk, South Shields, said he thought his friend was dead, and then feigned being attacked himself by a third party.

During the course of the call, two ambulances were despatched to an address in Newmarket Walk, South Shields.

But when police called at Helens’ own home he admitted the call – on the afternoon of Friday, November 8 – was total fantasy, and that he had been playing a violent game on his PlayStation shortly before making it.

Helens, 25, who works as a volunteer in a Salvation Army charity shop, admitted making a malicious 999 call, and was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with the requirement that he completes 120 hours of unpaid work and a supervision requirement of 18 months. He also has to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Christopher Rose, prosecuting at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, said: “The call lasted for approximately 12 minutes.

“The caller said he was at an address in Newmarket Walk, in South Shields, and that he was with another man called Max who had suffered a gunshot injury to his chest.

“He said the man was slipping in an out of consciousness and bleeding badly.

“An ambulance had to be dispatched and, once the call handler was told the man had stopped breathing, and that he might be dead, this information had to be treated as a possible cardiac arrest and a second ambulance was called.”

He added: “The defendant then said he himself had been attacked by a third person and feigned screaming and shouting.

“The call taker said that this caused her to be very concerned for his safety and that of ‘Max’.”

Acting on information, the police attended Helens’ home where he was arrested.

In interview, he admitted making the call, and that none of things he claimed had actually happened.

He said he knew of the inconvenience he had caused to the ambulance and police services.

In a victim’s statement the call taker said: “This man’s behaviour on the telephone made me feel concerned. The whole incident has left me feeling a bit shaken.”

Laura Johnson, defending, said: “It would appear that the phone call made to the emergency services coincided with him playing a violent shooting game on his commuter. He tells me that he has very little recollection of the phone call.

“Mr Helens has significant health needs. He is deaf in his left ear, partially blind in his left eye and has speech problems.

“He accepts that he caused disruption and upset to the call taker and he apologises for his actions.”

A spokesman for NEAS, said: “We welcome the result of this court case.

“This inappropriate call lasted 12 minutes and resulted in the dispatch of two ambulances, resources which will have been needed elsewhere for genuine emergencies.

“I hope it sends out a clear message to others who might consider misusing our services or abusing or assaulting our staff.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul