A man who faked a Snowdonia mountaineering fall and sparked a £32,000 rescue operation has been jailed.
Pizza delivery man Michael Parry Cuminskey was sentenced to 16 months in prison at Caernarfon Crown Court yesterday after being charged with causing a public nuisance on March 25, 2016.
The court heard that Cuminskey had started behaving ‘irrationally’ while climbing in the Vivian Quarry, Llanberis, and was found by a man at the bottom of a 130ft drop.
He said he was suffering from shallow breathing and claimed his back was painful.
The man called for help, and 20 Llanberis mountain rescue team volunteers were assembled.
However Cuminskey became aggressive and when winched aboard the helicopter he tried to take a selfie.
He was flown to Gwynedd Hospital at Bangor where he was uncooperative but said he was sorry for his actions.
The fake operation cost the public purse more than £30,000.
Days earlier, North West ambulance service received a call that a young man had fallen while walking in Cumbria.
Keswick mountain rescuers were alerted and an air ambulance helicopter.
Brett Williamson, prosecuting, said four team members set out for Thirlmere and reached Cuminskey at the foot of a rocky area wearing ski-goggles and with an ice axe next to him.
The defendant, who is said to have Aspergers Syndrome, claimed he was in pain and couldn’t feel his legs, and he was carried to the helicopter.
But during the flight he was aggressive towards the crew, pulling at cables and being abusive.
The aircraft was forced to land again and he was stretchered down the hill to an ambulance.
Mr Williamson explained: ‘Once at the hospital and while waiting to see the doctor, the defendant said he needed the toilet.
‘He got off the stretcher and walked to the toilet. It’s believed following this he left the hospital.
‘This was a staged accident. he was entirely uninjured.’
Cuminskey had previous convictions including for wearing a Royal Welsh Regiment military uniform and fraud.
In July 2016 there was another pretend 60ft fall in the Scottish Borders when fire, police and ambulance services and Tweed Valley mountain rescuers were called out.
The prosecutor said: ‘He said he didn’t tell the emergency services exactly where he was because it results in more people attending.’
He had cried and said emergency services were the only ones to be nice to him.
Cuminskey confessed to at least five similar hoaxes, two of them on Ben Nevis.
His barrister Jonathan Austin said: ‘He’s been a vulnerable child. He’s a vulnerable young man.
‘He’s described in the psychiatric report as being of low cognitive ability.
‘He’s someone who craves affection and some emotional support. He’s a troubled young man.’
Mr Austin said there had been no repeat of his behaviour while on bail.
Judge Huw Rees told the defendant he should be ‘thoroughly ashamed’.
He said only custody was appropriate but the prison service should be made aware of Cuminskey’s vulnerability.
Cuminskey protested ‘no’ and ‘please judge’ in a violent scene as attempts were made to remove him from the secure dock.
Investigating Officer PC Gethin Jones from North Wales Police said: ‘Hoax calls put lives at risk and are a costly and wasteful use of resources and Cuminskey showed a complete disregard for this fact.
‘Not only do hoax calls show a lack of respect for the emergency services, but responding to false calls divert staff and volunteers from genuine emergencies where they are needed most.
‘This particular incident is estimated to have cost the public purse over £32,000 which is unforgiveable.
‘The search and rescue helicopter was dealing with this particular incident where it could have been needed elsewhere on a genuine life-saving call.’