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Co Armagh man jailed for making series of drunken 999 calls to police

Defendant could not remember making five nuisance calls over a matter of hours

A Portadown man who made five nuisance 999 calls to police – including twice accusing a physiotherapist of touching him inappropriately – has been jailed.

Thomas Edward Finn, 59, of Crawford Park, also phoned police to tell them that men in balaclavas were the door of his home.

And in another he threatened to take his own life.

At Craigavon Magistrates’ Court this week, the 59-year-old admitte to the persistent improper use of communication and apologised for his actions.

The calls were made over a matter of hours, between 8.04pm on September 21, last year, and 3.05am the next day.

Finn’s first 999 call was made at 8.04pm in which he reported to police that he had been “touched inappropriately by a physiotherapist”.

As officers were responding to the call at 8.21pm, the defendant rang again stating that men in balaclavas with guns were at the door and informed them he had a gun for his personal protection.

Police went to the defendant’s address and, finding nothing to back up Finn’s claims, left shortly after.

Not long later the defendant called once again claiming he had been “sexually assaulted by a physiotherapist”; this was ignored by police as a false call as they had just left the address.

At 3.04am Finn contacted the police again, this time demanding that they return a knife which he claimed they had taken from his home.

The defendant’s final call was a minute later, at 3.05am during which he threatened to kill himself if the officers did not return items which Finn claimed had been stolen by officers.

When police returned to the defendant’s address he appeared intoxicated and was banging on the doors as they approached.

Finn was taken to Banbridge station and in interview stated he had no recollection of the phone calls.

He told officers: “I am very very sorry that I have wasted your time.”

Court heard that the defendant was currently serving an 18-month probation order for another matter for which he had been sentenced in Newry.

Defence solicitor John McAtamney said Finn had turned to alcohol after the break up of his marriage.

He said this was “one occasion on one night” where he was “heavily intoxicated” and his client had “apologised both in interview and in court to the police and hospital services”.

Mr McAtamney asked that District Judge Bernie Kelly deferred any possible sentencing to allow Finn to complete his community service order.

It was heard that the defendant had been engaging with probation and had only missed one appointment in a year.

The defence also asked that credit be given for Finn’s early plea, admitting that he had “made a nuisance of himself”.

Judge Kelly told the defendant he clearly did not understand the “seriousness” of the allegations he made towards a member of the medical profession.

She said his words had the “capacity to ruin” another person’s life and this was something which could “not be tolerated”.

Finn was sentenced to serve one month in prison, with District Judge Kelly remarking that the offence was “so serious” there was only one penalty she could impose.

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