Foot fetish man avoids jail for 1,263 nuisance calls to NHS 111

Richard Cove pretended to be elderly woman on phone to indulge sexual obsession with feet

Tim Wyatt
Tuesday 14 September 2021 01:17 BST
Richard Cove admitted to police he made the 1,200 calls to indulge his foot fetish
Richard Cove admitted to police he made the 1,200 calls to indulge his foot fetish (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A foot fetishist who made more than a thousand calls to the NHS’s 111 service to ask the call handlers about their feet has been convicted and fined.

Richard Cove, of Boundary Road in Worthing, admitted making malicious communications at Worthing Magistrates’ Court after police had discovered he had repeatedly rung up the free health advice line to indulge his fetish.

He was given a suspended 16-week prison sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay £2,000 compensation to the NHS.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), which runs the 111 phone line in the region, said Cove’s 1,263 phone calls over two years had cost the NHS almost £22,000.

Cove was caught after a member of the public made a complaint in 2019 to NHS 111 reporting they were repeatedly contacted by the service despite having never rung the number.

SECAmb then discovered a nuisance caller had been regularly phoning NHS 111 but using a false name and faked ailments, some of which had led to NHS 111 clinicians making return calls or even sending out ambulances.

In many of the calls, the caller would pretend to be an elderly woman and talk about their own feet, before going on to ask the NHS 111 handler on the other end of the line about their feet.

PC David Quayle from Sussex Police said: "Police enquiries identified the offender’s phone number and arrested Cove at his home from where he had been making the calls on his landline.

"He admitted making all the calls and that they were all for his own enjoyment. He said he had a sexual foot fetish which he indulged during most of the calls."

David Davis, SECAmb’s head of integrated governance, said Cove’s calls had not only distressed his 111 staff, but also tied up their time when they could have been helping people with real medical problems.

"Just one false or malicious call puts lives at risk and diverts our resources and attention from patients in genuine need of emergency care,” he said.

"The impact of this individual’s actions should not be underestimated. The nature of the calls also caused unnecessary distress to our staff who continually work tirelessly to get people the assistance they require."

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