Man pleaded guilty

A man who organised an elaborate hoax that tied up the resources of Newquay and
Aberystwyth Coastguard Rescue Teams, RNLI lifeboats from Newquay,
Aberystwyth and Cardigan, a rescue helicopter and police units from
Dyfed Powys Constabulary for two and a half hours has pleaded guilty to giving false information under The Communications Act and been sentenced to a 12 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, 200 hours of community service and £2,500 costs.

The hoax began at ten minutes past three on the 8th August 2009, when a 999 call was received by Milford Haven MRCC from someone calling themselves Ben Aldridge, who said that he’d gone on a fishing trip with a friend from Newquay, in a small inflatable boat at half past midnight. They were now lost and both men were very cold and unsuitably dressed. The caller said he was particularly worried about his friend’s physical condition.

Numerous resources were deployed in the search to find the two men. During the search, attempts were constantly being made by the Operations Room staff to speak to the casualties on their mobile phone and establish their location from descriptions of what they could see.

None of the units on scene were able to locate the casualties and at four minutes to six Dyfed Powys Police were asked to trace the call. At quarter to seven, Dyfed Powys Police called to say that they had located then man assuming the name of Ben Aldridge and his friend ashore and after questioning they both eventually admitted to making the malicious hoax call to the Coastguard and were duly arrested and charged.

Summing up the case today at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court the leading Magistrate Peter Loxdale said:
“This was a very serious offence and the costs were colossal. The only reason that you were not jailed was because you are full of remorse and pleaded guilty.”

Coastguard Sector Manager George Crumpler said:
“This irresponsible action of Daniel Aldridge put 30 members of the emergency services at risk as they searched throughout the night.

“Hoax calls are a nuisance to all and we were lucky that no genuine calls came in during the search.”