Serial mountain rescue faker who took a selfie while being winched to safety is jailed
As a means of attracting attention, staging accidents on various mountain ranges is not overly common. But that is likely to be of little consolation to the crews who have raced to the aid of Michael Cuminskey, a serial mountain rescue faker with a penchant for taking a selfie as he is winched to safety.
Mr Cuminskey’s antics have cost tens of thousands of pounds, with unnecessary rescues from mountains in Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Scottish borders, a court heard.
The 23-year-old, from Darlington, pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance after staging accidents in the Lake District in March 2016 and three days later at Llanberis in Snowdonia.
The estimated cost of the coastguard rescue helicopter call-out in Snowdonia came to £33,000 (€37,000).
Brett Williamson, prosecuting, told Caernarfon crown court Cuminskey had started behaving "irrationally" while climbing in the Vivian Quarry, Llanberis, and was found by a man at the bottom of a 130ft drop, claiming his back was painful.
Twenty mountain rescue team volunteers were assembled but as Cuminskey was winched aboard the helicopter he tried to take a mobile phone selfie.
He was flown to Gwynedd Hospital at Bangor where he apologised for his actions.
Days earlier, North West ambulance service received a call about a 20-year-old man who had fallen while walking in Thirlmere, Cumbria.
Keswick mountain rescuers found Cuminskey at the foot of a rocky area claiming he could not feel his legs..
On arrival at hospital he said he needed the lavatory, climbed off the stretcher and walked out.
“This was a staged accident,” said Mr Williamson. “He was entirely uninjured."
In July 2016 there was another pretend 60ft fall in the Scottish Borders when fire, police, ambulance services and Tweed Valley mountain rescuers were called out.
The court heard he did not tell rescuers specifically where he was because it resulted in more people attending.
Cuminskey confessed to at least five similar hoaxes, two of them on Ben Nevis.
Jonathan Austin, defending, said he was someone who craved affection and emotional support. “He's a troubled young man,” he said.
But Judge Huw Rees told Cuminskey he should be "thoroughly ashamed."
He added: "This was a serious, persistent course of conduct with significant unnecessary loss of public money in circumstances where others, trained rescuers, were put at risk. Both the offences are examples of your blatant attention-seeking." He was jailed for 16 months.