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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Hoax caller sent lifeboat into gale
RNLI Mersey class all weather lifeboat
A lifeboat was sent out in a gale responding to a hoax call
A 58-year-old man has pleaded guilty to making three hoax calls to coastguards resulting in lifeboats being launched in rough seas.

David Ronald Garforth from Penmaenmawr, Conwy admitted making false radio calls, saying he was on a vessel in distress.

On three occasions last December lifeboats were called out to search various parts of the north Wales coast because of the false calls made.

Magistrates in Denbigh said the consequences of his actions could have been horrendous.

During one incident, a crew was sent in search of a fake fishing vessel in gale force winds and 12ft high waves.

Lifeboatman Keith Charlton, who was part of the crew, said at the time: "The weather was quite atrocious.

"We got to the position( where the boat was supposedly missing) but there was nothing there, we searched the water and set off illuminating flares.

"All the crews lives were put at risk. They're putting us at risk, the boat at risk and somebody else who could need us."

Before long, coastguards concluded that the hoaxes were being made by the same person and within a few weeks Garforth was arrested.

In mitigation the court was told that Garforth had had a troubled life and had spent 25 years in Ashworth Special Hospital in Merseyside before he moved to north Wales in 1993.

He had failed to come to terms with the suicide of his partner two years ago and his solicitor Alex Fitzgerald said his client's behaviour could be seen as a cry for help.

He has since written to the Llandudno lifeboat to apologise.

Magistrates ordered that the case be sent to the crown court for sentencing and asked for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports to be prepared.

Garforth also admitted having no licence or certificate of competence to operate the VHF radio he used to make the calls.

Hoax call sends lifeboat into gale
22 Dec 03  |  North East Wales
One caller behind lifeboat hoaxes
23 Dec 03  |  North East Wales
Lifeboat hoaxers condemned
26 Dec 03  |  North West Wales

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