Pest sparked police response when he sent a series of false calls to crime helpline

The Hebburn man sent four messages in three days.

Photo: Northumbria PolicePhoto: Northumbria Police
Photo: Northumbria Police

A South Tyneside pest sparked an armed police response when he sent a series of annoyance texts to a crime helpline using male and female pseudonyms, a court heard.

In one of four messages in three days, Shane Ridout, 28, of Howe Street, Hebburn, pretended to be a woman whose mum was being held captive by her ex-partner.

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And in another to the Northumbria Police reporting service, he claimed his name was Noah Bissett and that his mother was being threatened at gunpoint.

He also posted a message under the name Zoe Lock to claim a female friend was being detained at gunpoint by an ex-partner, prosecutor Mike Lawson said.

A fourth text, but the first in a series to the same number in March 2022, saw him claim a female pal was in danger from an armed former boyfriend.

Ridout pleaded guilty to four counts of sending a false message by a public electronics communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.

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Magistrates in South Tyneside heard he may have been suffering from mental health issues and could require a psychiatric assessment.

Mr Lawson said: “He texted the police on March 15, saying that his friend was in danger from her ex who was there with a firearm. He was told he should call 999.

“On March 16, he said he was Zoe Lock and was being held against her will and that there were firearms at the address. 

“He also claimed to be a Noah Bissett and said that his mother was being held hostage at gunpoint. A firearms officer attended.

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“The next day, there was a report asking for police help which was false.

“He made a further report, claiming to be a Jane Griffiths whose mum was being held by her ex-partner.

“The police attended an address in Collingwood Street, where they arrested the defendant. He has caused significant disruption.

“The prosecution would say it’s high culpability, which is nine weeks’ custody for a single charge.

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“He has 52 previous convictions from 86 offences, and you will see there’s a significant history of communications offences.” 

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Geoffrey Forrester, defending, said Ridout likely had mental health issues which led to his crimes and called for the court to order a psychiatric report.

He added: “It’s clear as can be to me that he has issues that need understanding. It seems to have stopped and then started again.”

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Magistrates ordered an all-options non-psychiatric report ahead of sentencing at the same court on Wednesday, February 28.

A psychiatric assessment may be ordered based on the findings of the pre-sentence report.