Harrogate man faces jail after lying about being kidnapped

Harrogate Magistrate's Court
Harrogate Magistrate's Court

A Harrogate man who lied about being kidnapped and wasted hundreds of hours of police time faces jail.

Niall O'Neil, of Spa Lane, rang North Yorkshire Police in a panic on September 16, 2015, and told them that he had been kidnapped.

Appearing at Harrogate Magistrate's on Tuesday, the court heard that police took the call 'very seriously'.

Police spent considerable man-hours investigating the 26-year-old's disappearance and attempting to contact him.

However, after a combined total of 145 hours spent on the case, officers located O'Neil the following morning 'perfectly fine'.

After initially denying making the phone call, O'Neil admitted to police in his interview that he had in fact lied about being kidnapped.

O'Neil's defence barrister, Katherine Stucky, said he was 'sincerely apologetic' for his actions that cost more than £3,000 in taxpayer's money of police time.

She said: "He is deeply shameful of what happened on this evening. He had just moved in with partner and he did not know the area.

"They had an argument and she told him to get out of the car but he does have a history of being an abuse victim.

"In a state of panic he made this phone call and for the consequences of his actions on that day he is deeply remorseful and apologetic.

"There's not a lot more that can be said. This is a stupid incident that occurred out of panic."

O'Neil was given a 10-week suspended jail sentence for harassment in September 2014 and Ms Stucky said he had enjoyed a 'lengthy period out of trouble'.

However, Magistrate James Barnett ruled that this crime did trigger a breach of this suspended sentence and would face a Crown Court sentencing.

He said: "It's a real shame you are here for such a stupid act. We have tried to find reasons but we can't justify not activating your suspended sentence."

O'Neil pleaded guilty to the charge and will now face sentencing at Leeds Crown Court in March.