A HOAX 999 caller from Greenock sparked an emergency services alert which cost taxpayers more than £20,000, the town’s sheriff court has been told.

Christopher Wilson, 29, falsely reported that a man had jumped into the River Clyde, near the Beacon Arts Centre, pictured, causing a multi-agency operation to swing into action.

Procurator fiscal depute David Glancy said: “This was a fairly major emergency services effort where the cost of that single phone call was in excess of £20,000.

“It was a very labour intensive multi-agency operation to determine if someone had in fact entered the water.

“I believe that a helicopter may also have been involved.”

But Wilson — whom the court heard has issues with alcohol — today appears set to avoid prison over the incident after a sheriff previously referred him for counselling sessions.

He pleaded guilty to making the call on May 23 last year for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to emergency call handlers.

It is understood that the coastguard, the police and the fire service attended the bogus incident.

Wilson also behaved in a threatening or abusive manner likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm by shouting and swearing at his mother at her home in Royal Street, Gourock, on August 30 2015.

And he breached a bail order by failing to appear in court on the spurious emergency call matter on August 17 last year.

Sheriff Iain Fleming told Wilson, of the Inverclyde Centre, that he was ‘fortunate’ that he had previously been placed on deferred sentence to allow him to engage with alcohol counselling.

The sheriff further deferred sentence until May 18 for him to steer clear of further trouble.