AN ENNISKILLEN woman has been given a two-month prison sentence after she was convicted of persistent improper use of communications and wasting police time and false reporting.

Caroline Irwin (54), with an address of Coleshill Park, Enniskillen appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court via videolink from Hydebank Prison on Monday.

The court heard that on numerous dates in January, 2021, the defendant called police, reporting fears of her own safety. Between January 1-4, police received 29 calls from Irwin.

On January 4, they spoke to her at around 4am, and again at 4.45am, and there was nothing amiss, with the court hearing that she was lonely and wanted to show police things in her house.

The defendant was strongly advised against ringing the police again, but at 5am she rang alleging concerns for her safety, which were unfounded, and she was arrested.

During interview, Irwin was upset and admitted calling police, and said that she was lonely. The 54-year-old was bailed and told not to contact emergency services unless for a genuine reason.

However, between January 11-19, 41 calls were made to the 101 number by Irwin, with the majority of them tasking both police and the ambulance service.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service checked back on their records, noting that Irwin had called them more than 70 times in a 12-month period.

On January 19, the defendant rang claiming she was going to slit her wrists with a kitchen knife, but when police arrived there was no knife, and Irwin became abusive and said she did not need any help.

Full admissions

Irwin made full admissions when interviewed the following day, and said she thought her lost dog was an emergency, and admitted that she was abusing the 999 number.

District Judge Steven Keown described her actions as an “outrageous” waste of emergency services’ time, especially during a pandemic.

Ciaran Roddy, defence barrister for Irwin, said that his client’s issues such as loneliness had been exacerbated by the pandemic, adding there was a “degree of pity” for Irwin, who was candid about her loneliness and alcohol issues.

Judge Keown said that if Irwin continued to reoffend, she would spend more and more time in custody, to which the defendant replied that she had learnt her lesson and she was afraid of losing her dog, which meant the world to her.

Irwin was given a two-month sentence, with Judge Keown commenting that he hoped she got the help she needed, or it would be a revolving door for her in and out of custody.