Judge jails hoax 999 caller for 10 months
TWO hoax 999 calls made by an 18-year-old resulted in the emergency services combing a river for the body of a 'missing' male and the spend of thousands of euro in the search.
At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan sentenced Nathan Coughlan, of Station Court, Ennis, to 10 months after stating that the youth acted "reprehensibly" in making the hoax calls.
Judge Durcan said that the "mind boggles" at the offences committed by Mr Coughlan which would have left local people deeply concerned for the 'missing' person.
Detective Garda Stephen Hession said that the coastguard helicopter was scrambled on November 13 last after Nathan Coughlan made the 999 call to state that "a fella is after throwing himself into the river".
The person taking the call told Mr Coughlan that the services were already dealing with a separate call-out that involved a motorist ploughing his car through the window of an Ennis shop.
Asked if the call was a hoax, Mr Coughlan said: "No, this is genuine. This is a real call."
Insp Tom Kennedy said that the cost of the call-out of the coastguard helicopter would be at least €5,000, with the cost of the fire-brigade call out at €1,600. Insp Kennedy said that the helicopter was in the air over Ennis for over one hour searching for the missing man.
Mr Coughlan - with a string of previous convictions - followed up the hoax call with a second hoax call to the emergency services on June 16, where he again claimed to see a man throw himself into the River Fergus.
However, Det Hession said that on this occasion, the emergency services were not scrambled as a member of the public overheard Mr Coughlan make the call when it was obvious no one had gone into the river.
Mr Coughlan was arrested by gardai in Ennis town centre and his earlier November offence was detected after gardai listened to the audio recording of the phone call.