Leon Marandola's hoax calls led to HM Coastguard deploying helicopters, coastguard rescue officers and RNLI lifeboats at cost of £170,000
Leon Marandola has been sentenced in Scotland after making false and malicious calls to HM Coastguard.
The 20-year-old, who in May 2019 had joined the Buckie RNLI team as a volunteer, has been ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and given a two-year supervision order.
A restriction of liberty order has also been imposed.
Marandola pleaded guilty to making 19 hoax calls during an earlier hearing at Elgin Sheriff Court.
The hoax calls were made during a two-month period between 17 June and 25 August 2019.
They led to HM Coastguard sending out helicopters, coastguard rescue officers and RNLI lifeboats to save lives when in fact no one was in any danger.
The cost of these call outs has been estimated to be in the region of £170,000.
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HM Coastguard said this figure didn’t account for the wages of volunteers that may have been lost due to call outs, the HM Coastguard operations room costs or the costs to any merchant or industrial ships that may have been diverted by HM Coastguard to assist in the searches.
Commenting on the case, Coastal Operations Area Commander for HM Coastguard, Ross Greenhill said: ‘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 grave danger which could have serious consequences.
‘As in this case, we will always work with the relevant authorities to fully investigate and seek a prosecution if we suspect hoax calls are being made.
‘This case stands out because the offender is someone who wanted to work alongside emergency services to help people and prevent loss of life at sea. Each time he made a false report, he put the safety of his fellow volunteers at the RNLI and HM Coastguard at risk and let down his local community.
‘We hope the sentencing today makes others think twice before making false calls to any of the emergency services. Putting the lives of members of the public and of emergency services colleagues at risk will never be tolerated,’ he added.
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