A former lifeboat crewman has admitted carrying out a spate of hoax emergency calls, falsely claiming boats and people were in trouble at sea.
Leon Marandola was a member of the Buckie RNLI crew in Moray when he made the shouts to the coastguard in 2019.
The incidents took place between June 17 and August 25 when he repeatedly provided the false information.
Marandola appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court and pleaded guilty to breaching the Communications Act.
He admitted sending the messages which he knew to be false, for the purpose of causing “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety” to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The 20-year-old made direct calls using VHF Radio and by telephoning 999 and also admitted posting on Facebook.
Sentence was deferred until June 3.
The charge said he stated that vessels or people required rescue at sea when he knew this was not true.
After the short hearing, a spokeswoman for the RNLI said: “We stand with our colleagues in Police Scotland and the Coastguard in condemning the behaviour of those who make hoax calls.
“Calls of this nature, where the perpetrator knows no life is at risk, not only waste time and resources but also endanger the lives of those who could need our services, only to find them unavailable or able to reach them in time.
“As an organisation we are, of course, disappointed that these calls have been made by a person previously connected to our lifeboat station, the person is no longer a volunteer with us.
“We are a charity founded upon and driven by our values of selflessness, courage, dependability and trustworthiness and these are values we expect all our people both volunteers and staff to live by.
“We are, as always, proud of our crews who drop anything to save lives at sea and we thank local communities for their continued support of our service and also local employers who allow our volunteers to leave their work in order to save lives.”
Abused his position
Detective constable John Riddell, of Elgin Police Station, said: “Marandola abused his position making a series of hoax calls which not only caused considerable expense to the organisations but moreover put staff and volunteers at unnecessary risk.
“The police inquiry involved reviewing transmission recordings which was assisted by working in conjunction with Ofcom.
“Specialist equipment was used to capture transmissions and compare these to known hoax calls.
“Data from each transmission was then analysed to work out the area from which the hoax call was made.
“This is a complex process as each distress call is treated seriously, with the organisations working around the clock to answer genuine calls.
“Hoax calls cost lives. Every false or inappropriate call takes up precious time of the emergency service and prevents someone who really needs immediate help from getting it.
“We will not hesitate to arrest and charge those who misuse the 999 system or make hoax contact to any emergency service.”
HM Coastguard divisional commander Sue Todd added: “Hoax calls are taken extremely seriously as they tie up vital life-saving resources and risk taking them away from those who are actually in need.
“We will therefore always work with the relevant authorities to fully investigate and will seek to pursue a prosecution.”