Thursday, May 1, 2008

British 911 prank caller gets four years in jail

Britain’s alleged worst prank caller was sentenced in late March to four years in prison after pleading guilty to causing a public nuisance for 40 years of phony calls to emergency services. David Mason was accused of costing taxpayers almost $2 million by plaguing police, fire and ambulance crews with fake emergencies.

He invented brawls, blazes, car accidents, medical emergencies and bomb alerts — for the sole purpose of seeing the flashing lights of emergency vehicles. He admitted to officers that he derived "excitement" from seeing emergency vehicles arrive at the scene.

"Mason has been a menace to both the emergency services and the local community, whose lives he put at risk,” police officer Ian Deary said. "He thought nothing of the consequences of his behavior and the fact that if officers were tied up dealing with his hoax calls that someone could have died."

Ironically, genuine 911 calls to paramedics had to be made to take Mason to the hospital after he had two heart attacks while awaiting his sentence. The judge in Mason's case took special note of this.

"The irony is you are a man with heart disease. If you needed an ambulance when you were dangerously ill and that ambulance is diverted by a hoax call you are the ultimate victim and could pay with your life,” Judge Stephen Everett told Mason. "I accept that you didn't commit these offenses as a joke. You did so because you were socially isolated and felt lonely, but there does seem to be an element of excitement in seeing emergency services responding to calls near your address."

Prosecutors say Mason’s calls, which started in 1968 when he was 17, took a variety of forms. Some claimed people were fighting in the street or were trapped in cars. Calls to ambulance services related to elderly people suffering chest pains or falling and being injured. In one incident police officers forced their way into a house, thinking a person was having a heart attack, only to find the homeowner knew nothing about the call. (info from the Daily Mail via Fox News)

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