A Cotswold man under police protection claimed he was being attacked by an intruder with a gun but was actually suffering from alcoholic hallucinations.

Thirty Gloucestershire police personnel were scrambled in response - including armed officers and dog units - after Simon Ascoli's call. His false alarm cost the taxpayer £5,500, Gloucester Crown Court heard on Friday.

Ascoli, 51, a former Jaguar and Rolls Royce engineer, was jailed for six months after he admitted perverting the course of justice, leading to the waste of 170 hours of police time and the arrest of an innocent suspect.

Neil Treharne, prosecuting, said that on Friday, March 19 last year Ascoli was at home in Rissington Road, Bourton-on-the-Water, and had been given police protection and a panic alarm because of his involvement in an unrelated investigation.

“When the police attended, Ascoli told officers that a man had entered his home with a firearm.

“Ascoli stated he had managed to disarm the intruder, who then ran off. He also gave a detailed description of a vehicle and provided the registration number.

“The police traced the vehicle to an address in Abingdon and arrested the owner, a woman, whom Ascoli said was involved in the incident. However, there is history between this woman and Ascoli as part of the original investigation.

“The police reviewed the CCTV of the house and the area surrounding it.
“Nobody had entered Ascoli’s home. Nobody threatened Ascoli. In fact nothing happened.

“Ascoli was arrested for perverting the course of justice, and the woman was released from custody."

Cotswold Journal: Simon AscoliSimon Ascoli

Ascoli eventually admitted his offending and apologised for wasting police time.

Seamran Sidhu, defending, said that during 2018 Ascoli’s marriage broke down, which led him to begin a heavy period of drinking.

She added: “He lost his job in 2019 as his drinking had escalated to consuming two to three bottles of vodka a day.

“He obtained a new position but this meant living away in Derby.

"When he returned home he found his home had been turned into a cannabis factory.”

His delusion was due to his alcoholism and was effectively a cry for help, she said. 

“Ascoli has since been diagnosed with self-induced temporary psychosis. He has also been diagnosed with bipolar disease, but is now back in full time employment,” said Ms Sidhu.

“Ascoli has been sober for four months and is in a new relationship. I believe he has a realistic prospect of rehabilitation should he retain his liberty.”

Jailing Ascoli for six months the judge, Recorder Richard Stead, told him: “You have a number of previous convictions which demonstrate your use of alcohol to excess.

"You have shown remorse and have taken steps to put alcohol behind you.

“Whilst there are clear underlying factors, given the seriousness and the consequences, I cannot suspend your sentence.”