A MAN who made more than 100 sexually explicit 999 and 111 calls has been jailed for 24 weeks.

Convicted sex offender Anthony Marsh, 56, of Tenth Street, Blackhall Colliery, County Durham, has been issued with a restraining order banning him from dialling 999 unless it is a genuine emergency.

He pleaded guilty to three communications offences and one of harassment relating to a detective who he also bombarded with calls.

District Judge Helen Cousins, sitting at Teesside Magistrates' Court, told him: "NHS staff and police officers deserve all the support that they can be given, particularly at the present time, and they need to know this type of behaviour will not be tolerated."

She jailed him for 24 weeks, saying the offending was too serious for a suspended sentence, and told him that saying he had been drinking was no excuse.

Marsh, a father of two grown-up children, made sexually explicit calls to 999 and 111 over several hours on two occasions at the end of March and the end of April, when handlers were busy dealing with genuine concerns about the coronavirus.

He made unwanted sexual comments, asked to speak to female staff members and said he was watching pornographic films during the calls.

He also harassed a detective, leaving her explicit messages and saying he was in love with her.

The court heard that while the detective considered herself "robust", Marsh's harassment had a detrimental affect on her.

Andrew Teate, defending, said the calls were "a complete waste of time, a nuisance and distressing in nature to the members of the NHS who are dealing with serious, life-threatening conditions".

He added: "While the defendant has not been diagnosed with any mental health problem, these offences do not necessarily fall within what one might call normal."