AN engineer abused police over the phone after ringing to complain that a hospital was not telling him how his mother was, a court has heard.

David Robin Ellerton was handed a restraining order banning him from contacting police except to report a genuine incident or emergency in October 2012, magistrates in Newton Aycliffe were told.

But in the early hours of Wednesday, May 28, the 49-year-old from Ferryhill called Durham Police to vent his frustration after staff at Darlington Memorial Hospital did not tell him what he wanted to hear when he rang them moments earlier, the court was told.

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Prosecutor Katherine Hannah said Ellerton, of Raby Road, had rung the hospital to find out how his mother, who was a patient there, was doing.

But after failing to get the information he wanted, he rang police several times in a few minutes to complain, becoming aggressive and abusive to the call handlers, Ms Hannah said.

The prosecutor said the restraining order was made after Ellerton was convicted of harassing call handlers at the police.

Ellerton admitted breaching the order by phoning police last week.

His solicitor Rory Todd said Ellerton wanted to offer his apologies to the call handlers for his last abusive calls.

Mr Todd said Ellerton has been drinking heavily as he had the week off work and decided to call the hospital.

The solicitor said: “Mr Ellerton accepts that at that time of the night it was not appropriate to be ringing the hospital, which is why he did not get the information we wanted.

“He then decided to ring the police, he does not recall what was said but he accepts by ringing when there was not an incident or emergency he was in breach of the restraining order.”

Ellerton is now getting help for alcohol abuse and mental health issues, the court heard.

Mr Todd also said the calls were the first breach of the order since it was made 18 months ago.

Dr Peter Minto, chairman of the bench, said he noted how long the order had run before it was breached, but added that breaking a court order was a serious matter.

Dr Minto said Ellerton had been a nuisance to the police, adding: “There is nothing worse for the police staff then dealing with people who are ringing up with calls that are false and cost the public purse God knows how much every year.”

The magistrate also warned Ellerton that future breaches could land him in prison.

Ellerton was fined £300 and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.