1492660103845 - Man’s disturbing phonecalls put mental health staff on edge for months

Man’s disturbing phonecalls put mental health staff on edge for months

Staff at a mental health unit used to dealing with crisis situations were left distressed after dealing with months worth of obscene phonecalls.

Between October 2016 and February 2017, David Virgil Straker made a total of 19 offensive calls to the Dunedin Emergency Psychiatric Service.

The emergency health service offers support to people suffering from acute mental illness.

All of Straker’s calls were described in the summary of facts as being “obscene and abusive” in nature, but the content of the conversations was not disclosed in court. 

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Staff members who dealt with the calls found them to be extremely upsetting and offensive, the summary of facts stated.

Straker, who lives in New Plymouth, was eventually tracked down and arrested but he initially denied being involved.

“No, it wasn’t me. You must have me confused with someone else,” he told police.

However, during his appearance in the New Plymouth District Court on Thursday, the 52-year-old pleaded guilty to a charge of offensive or disturbing use of a telephone. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment.

Lawyer Julian Hannam requested a probation report be ordered to look at options for his client due to his criminal history.

Judge Lynne Harrison agreed and said she wanted to get to the bottom of what was driving Straker’s offending and to ensure an “effective sentence” was put in place.

“I’m concerned that this is just something that is ongoing for you,” she said of his offending.

Straker was remanded on bail to reappear for sentencing on June 13.

Part of his bail conditions are not to contact the Dunedin Emergency Psychiatric Service or any other mental health service in New Zealand unless in case of an emergency.

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