A Durham man who bombarded emergency services call handlers with sexually explicit calls has been told he faces a substantial prison sentence.
Anthony Marsh appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates on Wednesday (April 29) and pleaded guilty to two charges of malicious communications from incidents in March and April.
The court heard how the 39-year-old called the NHS number 111 and 999 more than 100 times in just one 24-hour period last month and would be sexually explicit with female call handlers, causing them distress.
Both the 111 and 999 call systems have faced unprecedented demand during the national lockdown.
Marsh, of Tenth Street, Blackhall, appeared by video link and was remanded into custody while the prison service prepares a report.
Emergency Operations Centre manager for the North East Ambulance Service, Lynn Huldie, said:
“We must always prioritise our resources to those most in need.
“Frequent callers can impact upon our ability to provide the best service to other patients.
“We recognise that often the reason someone becomes a frequent caller to 999 services is due to an unmet need, be it social or medical and we have a dedicated team who proactively work with GPs, mental health and community healthcare partners to put plans in place to support such callers the best we can.
“Unfortunately, there are occasions when all of our attempts to support a frequent caller and reduce the impact of their behaviour on emergency services fail.
“At that point we will work with other agencies to explore options to manage the issue.
“Whilst we will explore all opportunities to support frequent callers, we take a zero-tolerance approach to any form of abuse against our staff.
“Our people come to work to help the public of the North East and do not deserve to be abused in the course of doing their job.
“All key workers are working hard in a challenging environment right now and to face abuse of this nature is unforgivable.”
PC Jayne Marshall, of Peterlee CID, said:
“These calls were very distressing to the call handlers who do such an important job, especially at this time.
“They did not deserve to be abused by Marsh, who acted selfishly but taking their time away from those in genuine need.”
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