A Wigan man has been slammed for making more than 50 nuisance 999 calls, potentially putting lives in danger by wasting call handlers’ time.
Sean Breheny repeatedly called emergency services between January and May of this year, sometimes more than once on the same day, holding up valuable resources by going on incoherent rambles and asking bizarre questions of the call handlers, who should have been responding to genuine emergency situations.
A hearing at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court was told how the 51-year-old, of Bankwood in Shevington, had been battling alcoholism – often drinking as much as six litres of cider a day – which had resulted in his making the calls.
The court heard that Breheny had been ringing the emergency number since January 2019, most often at night and after having drunk so much that he would have no recollection of making the calls, and would have to check his call history the following morning to see if he had done it again.
He made 25 calls before being arrested in March and quizzed by detectives.
But following a police interview, he made a further 11 calls in April, and another 16 in May.
Prosecuting, Tess Kenyon told justices that while there had been no threats made to call handlers, Breheny had refused to clear the line, rambling and making little sense, asking random questions and disrupting the call handlers’ job requirements.
The high volume of calls had had a “disruptive effect” on the emergency services lines, Ms Kenyon said.
The court also heard Breheny had appeared in court on two previous occasions for the same offence, once in 2015 and 2018, for which he received a caution and a fixed penalty notice, respectively.
A member of the probation service told the bench that Breheny would become “paranoid and frightened” after drinking alcohol, and would ring 999 just to contact someone.
He was unable to control his actions when drunk, it was said, but he acknowledged he had been “a nuisance to the police.”
“It could be life or death for someone,” Breheny said when asked what he thought the consequences of his actions could be.
He was given a 12-month community order, consisting of a six-month alcohol treatment programme and a five-day rehabilitation activity requirement. He will also pay court costs of £85, a victim surcharge for the same amount and a £120 fine.
Following his sentence, the chair of the bench told Breheny: “I’m sure you know what danger this is causing.
“Someone could be at death’s door, and they can’t get through because you are holding up the line.
“You have got to seriously take hold of yourself because you could kill someone so easily.”