Community service for false 911 call

Making a false report to a 911 operator was an abuse of state resources of the highest nature, Magistrate Nova Hall told a man who pleaded guilty with explanation to the charge.

Paul Armstrong Whittaker was sentenced last week to perform 40 hours of community service.

He first appeared in Summary Court 10 January. He was charged with knowingly making a false report of the commission of an offence – that someone had been shot at the gas station in North Side. The offence occurred on 22 November.

After hearing details of the incident and Whittaker’s explanation, the magistrate ordered a social inquiry report and told the defendant to cooperate. ‘I can hint no more loudly where I’m going with this unless I am persuaded otherwise by the report,’ she told him.

Someone else might have had a genuine emergency that needed the police, the magistrate pointed out. Further, the report he had made had officers responding to one of the most serious offences, particularly in the climate that existed in the latter part of the year.

However, she considered the fact that, at 35, Whittaker had no previous convictions.

His plea of guilty was accepted after he agreed with the facts set out by Crown Counsel Lindsey Cacho.

Mr. Cacho said the 911 operator received a call at 11.30pm from a male person who said that someone was shot. Officers from Bodden Town responded, as did armed officers from George Town.

The Bodden Town officers arrived first, spoke with the defendant and checked the gas station. They found no body and contacted the George Town officers to stand down.

Whittaker then told the officers he had been in a dispute with a tenant about electricity. Asked why he called 911, he said he only wanted quick police response to a report he had made earlier.

Whittaker told the court he was drinking that night and did not understand the seriousness of making the report to 911.

He said he had called police at 9pm because the tenant was getting aggressive and he wanted assistance.

Whittaker noted that he had made the 911 call from a pay phone; he could have lied and said he was not the one who called.

The defendant ended up coming to court six more times for mention of the matter before his case was disposed of. He was advised of his right to appeal.