Harrogate man jailed over hoax ‘kidnap’ call to police during row with boyfriend



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A man who wasted police time by dialling 999 and claiming he had been kidnapped during a row with his boyfriend has been jailed.

Niall O’Neil was given a six month sentence after a court heard 145 police hours were wasted as a result of the hoax call.

Leeds Crown Court heard O’Neil, 26, made the emergency call from his mobile phone around 8.20pm on September 16 last year and told an operator he had been kidnapped before ending the call.

Mehran Nassiri, prosecuting, said a North Yorkshire Police chief inspector then made the decision to divert officers away from their duties to investigate the incident.

The cost to the public purse was more than £3,500.

The call was traced to an address on Royal Parade, Harrogate, around 8am the next morning where officers spoke to O’Neil and his partner.

O’Neil denied any wrongdoing but officers noticed he was trying to hide a mobile phone up his sleeve.

He then admitted that he had made the call after a row with his partner,

He said: “I called police but nothing happened. I thought the police would call back. I was alone and I was scared and don’t know Harrogate.”

O’Neil later told officers that he had made the call after the couple had rowed in his partner’s vehicle.

O’Neil added: “He told me to get out of the car and I did not know how to get back to Wakefield.”

Twelve days before the offence O’Neil had been given a suspended sentence for harassing a former girlfriend.

The court heard he had waited for her outside her workplace in Leeds city centre before threatening her. He also sent her threatening and abusive messages on Facebook.

O’Neil pleaded guilty to wasting police time and breach of a suspended sentence.

Catherine Stuckey, mitigating, said: “It was not a logical act. It was a compulsive and thoughtless act.

“There was zero thought put in to it at the time.

“He can only say he thoroughly regrets it.”

Miss Stuckey said O’Neil and his boyfriend were still together. She added that O’Neil was now in full time employment and had recently been promoted to team leader.

Jailing O’Neil, judge Peter Benson said: “For some bizarre reason you told the police that you had been kidnapped.

“That led to a waste of money and hours when the police were diverted from no doubt very serious incidents and normal police duties.

“When the call was traced to you the next day you denied matters and made up a series of lies to cover up what you had done.

“I am afraid that somebody who indulges themselves in conduct of this nature must face the consequences.”