An east Belfast woman who made nuisance 999 calls - including one to the Fire Brigade asking them to move her washing machine - narrowly avoided prison today ).
Michelle Ferguson was placed under two years' probation by Deputy District Judge Liam McStay and was told that further nuisance calls would result in jail.
The 52-year-old, from Richhill Park, was sentenced at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on a charge of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another by persistently using a public electronic communications network.
A prosecutor said in the early hours of March 8 this year, police went to Ferguson's home after they received a 999 call.
In this call, Ferguson said police had taken her phone and she was going to walk in front of traffic.
It emerged she had also called the Fire Brigade on 999 to ask them to move her washing machine.
Ferguson was interviewed later that day and admitted phoning the emergency services. She also admitted making ten similar calls to the PSNI over the previous four days.
During today's hearing, it emerged that Ferguson spent last night in police custody after making more calls to the emergency services.
Her defence barrister maintained these calls were made when she had taken alcohol and was upset - which was a pattern of her offending.
The barrister described Ferguson as an isolated, unemployed woman with a history of depression and alcohol issues.
Accepting his client had previous convictions for similar offending, the barrister urged Judge McStay not to impose a jail term.
Instead, he asked that Ferguson be placed on probation which would allow her to address her issues.
Judge McStay agreed to this and made her the subject of a two-year order.
He warned Ferguson that if she re-offended in the next two years or breached her Probation, she was "walking herself" into a prison sentence.