A Nelson man warned by police against abusing police emergency call centre staff was arrested while still on the phone, swearing at them.
Timothy Patrick Gargiulo admitted in the Nelson District Court on Monday, charges of using a phone offensively and failing to comply with obligations in relation to a search of a computer, after making a string of offensive calls to the police emergency number.
The court heard that Gargiulo, 37, made 11 calls to the police emergency 111 number on January 11, asking to speak with police, but without a genuine reason.
Police prosecution said the lines are constantly flooded with calls from around the country, and phone lines had to be kept clear for those needing genuine, urgent assistance.
Gargiulo made the calls late at night, and into the early hours of January 12, asking to speak with police but did not reveal any genuine events for which he needed help. He was asked repeatedly by call-centre staff if he needed help, and if there was a genuine emergency.
Gargiulo then abused the call-takers, swearing at them and threatening them in various ways. Despite requests for him to stop calling unless he had a genuine emergency, he continued with the abuse and name-calling.
Police arrived at his Quarantine Rd address and arrested him, while he was still on the phone to the emergency call centre. His cell phone was seized as evidence, but Gargiulo refused to hand out his passwords.
Defence lawyer Kelly Hennessy told the court that Gargiulo suffered a string of health conditions for which he was taking pain medication. He had also been drinking and the combination had triggered his behaviour, for which he was sorry, and also embarrassed by.
Judge Tony Zohrab accepted that Gargiulo's health issues had been a trigger, and that he now understood how upsetting his conduct must have been for the busy call centre staff, who had enough to do dealing with genuine callers.
"It was wasteful of these people's time, and for the people doing this work it was incredibly abusive."
Gargiulo was convicted and discharged on the charge of failing to comply with the search of his device, and on matters around making the abusive calls, he was ordered to pay $750 emotional harm reparation.
Judge Zohrab ordered that the money be paid to the Salvation Army.