Hoaxer escapes jail after sparking £10,000 operation

Fleetwood Lifeboat
Fleetwood Lifeboat

A judge has slammed a man whose hoax call led emergency services on a “wild goose chase” which ran up a £10,000 bill.

It cost thousands of pounds of public money to launch an air and sea rescue operation off the Lancashire coastline.

Alex Jackson sparked the operation with a false 999 call in which he said his friend had gone into the sea off Fleetwood.

As the hunt for a man he named as James Morris carried on, he embellished his story in a bid to further convince police he was telling the truth.

The cost of scrambling the police helicopter and lifeboat was at least £10,000 District Judge Huw Edwards heard at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

There was also the cost of the ambulance and RNLI services (pictured) to take into account. Jackson, of North Albert Street,Fleetwood, admitted making a malicious hoax call.

He was jailed for 12 weeks suspended for a year, placed under supervision for a year and ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid work for the community.

Pam Smith, prosecuting, said that when he was confronted with the financial and manpower cost to emergency services, Jackson admitted he had made the whole story up because he was an attention-seeker.

The judge told Jackson: “These were services which could have been required elsewhere.

“You caused major disruption for something which was nothing more than a wild goose chase which you started for your own benefit.”

The court heard 50 people were involved in the search.

Steven Townley, defending, said: “He now appreciates the seriousness of what he did.

“He had been drinking that night.”