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Prison Warning for Hoax Caller

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A man from Coleraine who called Police and Fire Services about a hoax break in and fire could face prison if he offends again.

40-year-old Francis O’Neill appeared before Coleraine Magistrates Court last Friday and pleaded guilty to the charges of “improper use of communications to cause anxiety and false alarm of a fire”.

Mr O’Neill called Police at around 9.55pm on May 15th last year and reported a break in at his address. When Police arrived at the scene, they asked him if there had been a break in and he said there hadn’t.

Fire services arrived at the same time as Police having received reports of a fire at the address. Mr O’Neill admitted to the Police Officer that he had called the Fire Service and after being cautioned his reply was “so what?”

Mr O’Neill’s solicitor said he had drug and alcohol problems and on the night in question he was drunk, paranoid and thought he smelled smoke. He went on to say that O’Neill accepts that emergency services have better things to do than respond to his paranoid behaviour.

District Judge McNally handed down a 5 month sentence, suspended for 3 years and told O’Neill that if he falsely calls emergency services again, he will serve a minimum of 5 months on top the sentence for any new offences.


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