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Copter tragedy cops plagued by prankster

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 15, 2014

  • Benjamin Dakin

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A POLICE force was ‘bombarded’ with calls by a man from Burton while still reeling from one of the worst tragedies in its history, a court heard.

Benjamin Dakin, 20, made persistent calls to Police Scotland as its officers dealt with the fallout from a helicopter crash in Glasgow which killed 10 people just days earlier.

The disaster, which saw the police chopper hurtle into the packed Clutha bar in November last year, required a mass police presence and an exhausting investigation in the weeks that followed.

Prosecutors at Burton Magistrates’ Court said Dakin’s calls presented an unwanted distraction to the force during one of its most difficult periods.

Dakin, of Thornley Street, who suffers with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, also made dozens of calls to forces in London and Wales, asking to be arrested for various invented crimes.

His solicitor Neil O’Driscoll stressed he had searched for contact details online rather than dialling 999, and that his mental health struggles had played a major part in the offences.

Magistrates, concerned that Dakin could repeat the calls, issued him with an ASBO, banning him from making any contact with the police, except in a genuine emergency.

Emma Thompson, prosecuting, told the court: “He made numerous calls to police in London and Dyffed, asking to be arrested.

“He then called police in Scotland. Calls started at 4am and continued until 1pm. During that time there were in excess of 12 calls.

“It was particularly concerning and caused inconvenience. Only a few days earlier they had the incident when the helicopter crashed into the pub in Scotland. This was a major incident and this was the last thing they needed during a particularly difficult time up there.”

Mr O’Driscoll said: “He doesn’t really understand the consequences of what he is doing. It is quite clear to me that he has an awful lot of issues.”

Dakin was warned any future court appearances for this type of offence could land him in jail.

Mr O’Driscoll added: “The consequences are extreme for the police but he does say he is sorry. I have explained if he does it again he could be looking at a custodial sentence.”

Dakin pleaded guilty to three charges of persistently causing annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.

He was also handed a 12-month community order.

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