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Belfast man who called ambulance 171 times 'really sorry'

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A Belfast man has "clogged up" the emergency services by phoning for an ambulance more than 170 times in the past year, the High Court heard yesterday

A Belfast man has "clogged up" the emergency services by phoning for an ambulance more than 170 times in the past year, the High Court heard yesterday

A Belfast man has "clogged up" the emergency services by phoning for an ambulance more than 170 times in the past year, the High Court heard yesterday

A Belfast man has "clogged up" the emergency services by phoning for an ambulance more than 170 times in the past year, the High Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutors claimed paramedics were being taken away from genuine emergencies by unwarranted callouts to Peter O'Toole's home.

As 55-year-old O'Toole mounted an application for bail, he told the judge: "I really apologise for my actions."

The defendant, of Dunluce Avenue in the city, faces charges of persistent improper use of a public electronic communications network, and obstructing or hindering ambulance services from responding to emergency circumstances.

He made three calls on February 11, and a further eight the following day. Crews dispatched to his address were held up for periods of more than an hour as O'Toole then refused to co-operate, the court heard.

On one occasion he phoned again within two minutes of being checked, and while paramedics were still outside his home.

Referring to the wider activity, Crown lawyer Adrian Higgins said: "The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has 171 calls on their system from the defendant to his address between February 13, 2019 and February 13, 2020.

"He's drawing ambulances away from real emergencies and clogging them up with his unmerited phone calls."

O'Toole was said to have made admissions following arrest, claiming he acted while drunk.

He told police that he lived alone and phoned for an ambulance when he feared he was having a panic attack.

Opposing bail, Mr Higgins contended that the alleged offences went beyond nuisance calls.

Danielle McMahon, defending, told the court her client's behaviour stemmed from losing his brother at a young age.

"His anxiety is exacerbated and then he rings the Ambulance Service," she added.

Adjourning the bail application, Mr Justice Shaw said he wanted a package put together designed to provide help to the defendant.

He told O'Toole, who appeared in court by prison video-link: "This sort of behaviour is intolerable."

Belfast Telegraph