Disabled man made hoax calls

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A DISABLED man wasted police and firefighters’ time by making a string of hoax calls.

Wheelchair-bound Steven Sheppard, 53, of Blackman Avenue, St Leonards, rang the police and fire brigade six times over a month-long period.

At a court hearing on Monday, Mark Kateley, prosecuting, said Sheppard rang firefighters on October 4 last year claiming there was a fire in woods in Sidley.

Four days later he made another false call, claiming there was a car alight in Buckholt Lane, Sidley.

And firefighters received another hoax call from Sheppard on October 21, this time about another fire in woods in the same place.

The next day police got a call from Sheppard saying there was a fight in Bexhill but it proved to be a hoax.

Mr Kateley said: “The defendant made his last two calls on November 3. The first was a claim that there was a man going around Gunters Lane with a knife and machete.

“Later that same day police got another call saying there was a man with a knife sticking out of him in Buckholt Lane.”

Magistrates heard that more than 70 man hours of police and firefighters’ time were wasted and the cost of each call-out averaged £250 to the public purse.

Sheppard, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to six counts of making false messages at an earlier court hearing on January 10.

He appeared on Monday to be sentenced.

Samantha Wingfield, defending, said: “He cannot recall the reason why he committed these offences and if he knew he would tell the court. He has suffered a stroke and is paralysed on the left side.

“The defendant feels genuine regret over these offences.”

Magistrates gave Sheppard a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered £40 costs.