Violent hoax caller from Dungannon who spat at police jailed for six months

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A violent 999 hoaxer from Dungannon, who falsely claimed his girlfriend had attacked him and his brother was missing, has been jailed for six months.

Sean McDowell, 26, with an address now at Windmill Heights, Enniskillen, appeared at Dungannon Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

He was accused of resisting arrest, assaulting police officers and persistently making hoax emergency calls over a period of time beginning in November 2015.

The court heard how McDowell rang the police from his mother’s home falsely claiming that his brother was missing, and that his girlfriend had attacked him with a knife, adding that a plaster would do to treat the wound.

After then ringing to claim that his brother was not missing and his girlfriend had not attacked him, he made a series of calls demanding that the police release his girlfriend, as well as claiming that he had taken drugs and was cutting himself, and would continue to do so until he died.

On another night, police responded to a number of calls made by the defendant and found him to be intoxicated and in breach of his bail conditions.

After he failed a preliminary breath test, police tried to arrest McDowell, but he resisted their efforts and spat in the face of one of the officers.

On another occasion, police were forced to arrest McDowell who behaved so aggressively that a cell van had to be called mid-journey to transport him to the station. Once in the van, he proceeded to headbutt the sides of the vehicle.

His defence solicitor said that McDowell had repeatedly used the police as a support service, which was completely wrong. However, police had built up an understanding of his allegations and behaviour patterns.

Unfortunately, there was a lack of support and help in his life, added the solicitor.

He pointed out that when the defendant had moved away from the family circle to London and then to Enniskillen, there had been a break in his offending behaviour.

There was evidence that his behaviour improved when he is out of that environment, the solicitor claimed.

On the night of one of the incidents, McDowell had been offered drink by his family, and this had rendered him incapable of dealing with family tensions.

The solicitor added that maturity was coming at a very slow rate, but he said that McDowell was beginning to develop an insight into his behaviour.

However, Judge John Meehan said he had heard nothing in the defence to indicate any empathy or understanding of the repercussions of his behaviour. He accused McDowell of behaving in an egotistical and manipulative manner by causing alarm in the emergency services.