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Man sentenced for hoax calls

PUBLISHED: 17:34 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 07:19 01 August 2010

A FIRE chief this week warned of the dangers of making hoax calls to the emergency services after an offender was sentenced by magistrates.

James Whatling, 31, received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting a number of offences, including calling firefighters out to three hoax blazes in Southwold and Lowestoft.

A FIRE chief this week warned of the dangers of making hoax calls to the emergency services after an offender was sentenced by magistrates.

James Whatling, 31, received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting a number of offences, including calling firefighters out to three hoax blazes in Southwold and Lowestoft.

Whatling, of Old Station Road, Halesworth, was also ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work when he appeared at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Speaking after the case, Suffolk's assistant chief fire office Gary Phillips praised the magistrates' decision and said Whatling's actions could have prevented firefighters from attending real blazes elsewhere.

He added: “We need to send out the message that the fire and rescue service is here to protect the community and not to be sent out on hoax calls which endanger people's lives. This case is an example of what can happen to offenders.”

The court heard that as well as the hoax fire calls, Whatling admitted making a false call to the ambulance service, harassing a pensioner from Reydon, near Southwold, and sending offensive or indecent text messages to three different women.

Collette Griffiths, prosecuting, said Whatling's offending started on August 5 last year when he made a hoax call to the fire service to say there was a fire at his 74-year victim's address in Windsor Road, Reydon.

During the following month, Whatling carried out a campaign of harassment against the same man, placing a number of false orders for goods and services. For example, two Chinese takeaways not ordered by the victim were sent to his address, as was a taxi and a skip. A hoax call was also made to a garage to collect an old car for scrap, while a furniture company arrived to make a delivery.

The other false calls to the fire service, made during August, were to Southwold Common and a garage in Denmark Road, Lowestoft.

About 50 offensive or indecent texts were sent by Whatling to three different women during the autumn of last year. In all, Whatling pleaded guilty to seven charges and was also ordered to pay a total of £262 compensation to his victims.

No specific reason for Whatling's actions were given in court, but his solicitor Lucy Ashmore said her client was “vulnerable” and had been “easily led” by another man.

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