Man made 40 nuisance calls for ambulances in 5 days

59-year-old refused bail

The bulk of evidence has already been heard in the Coagh inquest, apart from Soldier F’s testimony
The man made several nuisance calls for ambulances (Liam McBurney/PA)

A Belfast man accused of making more than 40 nuisance calls for ambulances in a five-day period must remain in custody.

Peter O’Toole was refused bail on charges of having paramedics repeatedly dispatched to his home last month at a time when they were operating under severe pressure.

Madam Justice McBride told the 59-year-old: “I can’t allow the public to be exposed to risk because you are making all these nuisance calls and tying up ambulances while people who are seriously ill are waiting for them.”

O’Toole, of Dunluce Avenue, is charged with obstructing the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) from responding to emergency circumstances.

He also faces a further count of persistent improper use of a public communications network.

A Crown barrister told the court he phoned the 999 system 44 times between March 18-22.

Crews were sent to O’Toole’s home, but on each occasion he refused to travel to hospital. Once they had left he rang 999 again to make a further request for assistance, according to the prosecutor.

The court heard O’Toole has a history of similar behaviour stretching back to 2018.

Defence counsel Turlough Madden attributed his client’s actions to a “vicious cycle” of depression, loneliness and drinking.

Denying bail, however, Madam Justice McBride held that the risk of O’Toole re-offending was too great.

She stressed to the defendant that it was not the Ambulance Service’s role to put him at ease.

The judge declared: “They have a much different job dealing with emergencies, and yours is not an emergency.”