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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 16:14 GMT
Hoaxer jailed for 45k sea search
Patrick Lane
Patrick Lane made the calls after drinking alcohol
A hoax caller who sparked a 45,000 air and sea search for a "missing" swimmer has been jailed for 15 months.

Patrick Lane, 35, from Bylchau, Denbighshire, pleaded guilty at Caernarfon Crown Court to causing a public nuisance.

An RAF helicopter, two lifeboats, police and coastguards joined a search after Lane dialled 999 and reported a friend missing off the Rhyl coast.

Judge Merfyn Hughes QC said Lane had a "complete disregard" for public safety.

The court heard Lane gave four different accounts of what happened when he contacted the emergency services on 1 August 2007.

"Grave and serious matter"

He also gave four different names of the person he claimed was in difficulties.

The court was given a breakdown of the costs of the operation, which included 7,200 for lifeboats, 1,000 for a 4x4 vehicle and 30,900 plus VAT for the helicopter.

Passing sentence, the judge said: "The seriousness of making false and misleading reports cannot be underestimated.

To put them at needless risk with bogus, malicious calls is abhorrent
Jim Paton, Maritime and Coastguard Agency

"Those individuals who provide that [rescue] service are prepared to place themselves in danger for the safety of the public.

"To abuse that service is a grave and serious matter that deserves to be punished accordingly."

The court was told Lane had been drinking heavily when he made the 999 call and he had a record of driving offences committed while under the influence of alcohol.

The judge told him: "You have a complete disregard for the safety of the public."

Jim Paton, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said members of the rescue organisations involved were often volunteers, who risked their lives for others in potentially hazardous situations and horrendous conditions.

"To put them at needless risk with bogus, malicious calls is abhorrent," he said.

"We will always pursue prosecution against hoax callers and are grateful to North Wales Police for their assistance in this matter."

Listen to the hoax call to HM Coastguard

Man denies 20k sea search 'hoax'
20 Aug 07 |  North East Wales

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