A man who repeatedly lied to emergency services, saying a teenager had gone into the sea, sparked a rescue operation costing at least £10,000.
More than 50 people took part in the bogus search including lifeboat crew, coastguards, police personnel, the force helicopter and two ambulances.
Alex Jackson eventually confessed he had made the whole thing up and said he had done it because he loved attention. A court was told he had drunk two bottles of vodka and a three-litre bottle of cider before spinning his fairytale.
Jackson, 20, of North Albert Street, Fleetwood, pleaded guilty to maliciously making a hoax 999 call.
He was bailed for pre-sentence reports including custody to be considered by Blackpool magistrates.
Malcolm Cartwright, prosecuting, said Jackson rang the lifeboat on January 22 at 10.32pm and said a teenager had run into the sea opposite the North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood. A massive sea search for the youngster was started. Later police became suspicious of Jackson. When he was questioned Jackson then said he had seen the teenager dead in the water.
Jackson eventually came clean saying: “OK I made it all up. There’s no-one in the water. I love the attention. It’s like when I threatened to jump off that bridge.”
The prosecutor added: “Fifty emergency personnel were involved in the search. It was expensive, I’m told it cost £10,000 or more. There was also the danger to those searching in the dark.”
Paul Robinson, defending, said his client had mental health problems. Jackson had recently split-up with his girlfriend and he had drunk a large amount before committing the offence.
Today Lancashire Police branded misuse of the 999 system “irresponsible”.
A police spokesman said: “The 999 service exists for people to report emergency incidents to the emergency services, for the police it could be a crime in progress or where life or serious injury is at risk. People using this service for any other reason is simply unacceptable and can delay the response to a real emergency. While our operators are dealing with these types of calls, people in genuine need of emergency help may be trying to get through.”
At best, these irresponsible calls are wasting valuable time but at the very worst, they could cost lives.