A phone ‘pest’ who repeatedly hassled emergency service, hospital and council staff had to be forcibly removed from court after being banned from making nuisance calls.
Andrew Matthews, 52, was given a criminal behaviour order (CBO) at Leeds Magistrates Court on Thursday following a long history of bombarding public service workers with time-wasting and abusive calls.
During a lively court session, Matthews, of Well Croft, Otley, repeatedly interrupted proceedings, at one point calling the hearing a “joke”.
After telling District Judge Roy Anderson “We could become a double-act, we could be the new Morecambe and Wise”, Mr Anderson replied: “My agent will be in touch.”
The district judge, who said Matthews was guilty of “self-centred, obnoxious and whinging” behaviour and branded him a “pest”, also handed down a six-month community order and told Matthews he would have to pay £600 in court costs.
But, after being told he could leave, Matthews staged a bizarre sit-in protest, donning a wig and refusing to leave the public gallery. He was eventually ejected, amid vocal protests, by security officials and police.
It (the order) seeks to stop him being a pest and menacing peopleDistrict Judge Roy Anderson
The case brought against Matthews centred around allegations that he persistently made use of public communications to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.
It is thought he made dozens of such calls to Leeds General Infirmary among other organisations.
He was also convicted of a public order offence over a disturbance at Rummage second-hand shop in Otley.
The court heard he had numerous health problems, including obsessive compulsive disorder, and claimed the CBO was a breach of his human rights.
But Mr Anderson said: “It seeks to stop him being a pest and menacing people.”
The CBO bans Matthews from behaving in a threatening, abusive or insulting way towards NHS and Leeds Advocacy staff in person or over the phone for three years and from calling the emergency services except in a genuine emergency.
It was granted following an application by Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team, which is part of the city’s community safety partnership Safer Leeds.
Superintendent Sam Millar, who heads Safer Leeds, said: “Matthews has been a persistent problem for some considerable time and his behaviour has had a significantly negative impact on a number of organisations as well as on individuals and local businesses.
“The repeated calls he has made to agencies, including the police, the NHS, the ambulance service and the council, have wasted an enormous amount of time that could have been better spent dealing with people in genuine need of these services.
“We hope the criminal behaviour order will help to bring a stop to his behaviour but if he persists and breaches the order he will face further action at court.
“This case should again illustrate how the police and council are working in partnership making full use of the available legislation to target those whose criminal and anti-social behaviour has an ongoing detrimental impact on local communities.”