Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 17:48 UK

Hoax 999 call 'riot hero' jailed

Tom Bardsley
Bardsley was nominated for a bravery award after the Uefa Cup final

A man hailed as a hero for saving a policeman from rioting hooligans has been jailed for making a hoax 999 call which sparked a £1m rescue operation.

Tom Bardsley, 24, hit the headlines when he said he saved the officer from a mob of Rangers fans after the Uefa Cup final in Manchester in May 2008.

Six months later he called 999 to claim falsely that he had rescued a man from a canal, only for him to jump back in.

Manchester magistrates jailed him for four months for wasting police time.

Bardsley, a former Army medic from Salford, was convicted of the offence at an earlier hearing.

Stab vest

A police helicopter, nine firefighters with two engines, six police officers, a fire service rescue boat and two ambulance crews were scrambled to Potato Wharf, on the canal in Castlefield in the city centre, following his call on 14 November.

Because of your actions, all services were unavailable to assist other genuine calls
Presiding magistrate Sula Leon

The operation cost more than £1m, prosecutor Jennifer Baines told Manchester Magistrates' Court.

Police began to suspect Bardsley, who has previous convictions for theft and impersonating a police officer, after finding his clothes dry and no water on the side of the canal bank.

He was wearing a replica police stab vest and utility belt at the time of his arrest.

Defence lawyer Matthew Wallace asked the court to consider health reports which indicated that Bardsley, who served in Iraq with the Royal Engineers, could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sentencing Bardsley, presiding magistrate Sula Leon said he was wrong to make false claims on the telephone, and made matters worse by persisting with the matter.

"The police and emergency services are there to provide emergency assistance and to help the public," she said.

"Because of your actions, all services were unavailable to assist other genuine calls."

After his apparent bravery in helping to rescue the policeman in May 2008, Bardsley was recommended for a bravery award.

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'How I saved Pc from Rangers mob'
17 May 08 |  Manchester

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