Belfast man accused of phoning for ambulances 44 times


A man accused of phoning the emergency 999 system more than 40 times in a five-day period has been remanded in custody.

Peter O'Toole is accused of repeatedly having paramedics dispatched to his home in Belfast last week but then refusing to accompany them to hospital.

The 59-year-old, of Dunluce Avenue, appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Monday.

The court heard he phoned 999 44 times between 18 and 22 March.

He is charged with obstructing the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) from responding to emergency circumstances and persistent improper use of a public communications network.

Police said that at one stage the ambulance service was operating at a level classed as "severely under pressure" but had to deal with Mr O'Toole's persistent calls.

Every time an ambulance crew went to his home he declined to travel to hospital.

"Once they left he proceeded to call the 999 system (again)," a PSNI officer said.

'A state of loneliness'

Mr O'Toole told police his actions were due to anxiety aggravated by alcoholism.

"He stated that the paramedics had put him at ease, once he spoke to them he didn't feel the need to go to hospital," the officer added.

The judge was told that Mr O'Toole has 26 previous offences for similar behaviour.

A defence barrister said his client's actions were due to a "vicious cycle" of alcohol misuse.

"He goes into a state of loneliness," he added.

Bail was refused, however, based on the risk of further offences.

Remanding Mr O'Toole in custody until 9 April, the judge said: "The priority of the court has to be with hard-pressed emergency services."