Hoax call saw police rush to Monifieth home

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Police were called to a quiet rural street in the middle of the night after an online gamer pulled off a “swatting hoax” on his internet friend.

Robert Barr sent a full turnout of emergency services to the home Jamie Sales shares with his family near Monifieth, Angus, as he lay sleeping in his bed.

Barr claimed to 999 call handlers that he was Jamie Sales and that his father had attacked his mother - and was coming for him with a knife.

In reality, Barr was at his home 100 miles away in Paisley while the Sales family were sound asleep.

The term “swatting” was coined by the FBI to describe hoax calls that trigger a high level turnout of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams with powerful weapons.

Fiscal depute Kirsten Thomson told Forfar Sheriff Court that in this incident Barr and Mr Sales had become friends online and had made various prank calls to businesses and takeaways.

But their online fun turned sour when Barr called police and sent them to Mr Sales’ home - before going on social media minutes later and writing: “I’m going to prison.”

Miss Thomson said: “The complainer had been a friend of the accused and they had met through online gaming, and spoke through Skype and on the Xbox.

“They were making prank calls to businesses and fast food outlets and were listening to each other.

“At 2.30am on July 27 2014 a police call handler in Glasgow received a call from a withheld number.

“On answering the operator obtained initial details and the accused identified himself as Mr Jamie Sales.”

Barr told cops his father had knocked his mother unconscious and that he was coming upstairs with a knife.

Miss Thomson added: “Due to the severity of the incident an immediate police and ambulance response was requested and police attended immediately.”

Mr Sales’ mother, Michelle, was said to be “quite startled” to hear from police when they called her phone and raced to the quiet rural cul-de-sac.

Bar (19), of Kilbirnie, Renfrewshire, pleaded guilty to a charge of wasting police time on July 27 2014.

He further admitted a charge of breaching a bail order imposed on him with conditions not to access the internet.

The court heard he broke that order last year after he formed an online relationship with an American woman and arranged for her to come and meet him at Glasgow Airport.

Miss Thomson said: “Police officers were in the airport and Barr was sitting waiting in international arrivals.”

Sheriff Pino di Emidio imposed a community payback order with 120 hours unpaid work.

He said the case involved a “very serious incident” and described it as an “elaborate hoax”.