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Buckie lifeboat hoaxer is spared jail

By Alan Beresford

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A BUCKIE man who made numerous hoax calls to the Coastguard has been spared jail.

Leon Marandola was sentenced at Elgin Sheriff Court after making numerous hoax 999 calls.
Leon Marandola was sentenced at Elgin Sheriff Court after making numerous hoax 999 calls.

Leon Marandola (20) had admitted making 19 hoax calls during an earlier hearing at Elgin Sherriff Court. The hoax calls were made during a two-month period between June 17 and August 25 2019.

He was a member of Buckie RNLI's lifeboat crew at the time of the offences.

Marandola appeared again at the court on Tuesday, June 8 where he was 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.

Coastal Operations Area Commander 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.”

An RNLI spokeswoman added: "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.

The hoax calls 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. T

his figure does not 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.

However, the true cost of Marandola’s actions could have been much worse than monetary and could have cost someone their life.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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