Tower Hill (old) Warrnambool
Warrnambool's Tower Hill radio tower. PHOTO: Getty Images/Supplied.

Recently licensed amateur ‘ham’ radio operator, Samuel Crouch, 25, callsign VK3FST, has been accused of jamming Ambulance Victoria’s (AV) radio dispatch system.

Crouch, of Warrnambool, left paramedics unable to access their two-way (RAVNET) radio system for over 12 hours. It is alleged Crouch used his amateur radio equipment to interfere with Victoria’s emergency services communications networks.

Ambulance officers lost communications and were also unable to send distress signals to police, or receive dispatch calls due to the harmful interference. It is commonly known as ‘jamming’ a radio signal.

Crouch’s alleged interference led to the longest dispatch failure in AV’s history with ambulance officers having to resort to mobile phones.

Crouch had been using modified radio transmitters without a valid licence, causing interference to AV’s radio network between May 8 and June 12, 2023.

Ambulance Victoria recorded 300 instances of interference culminating in the 12-hour outage on June 10, 2023, as AV took measures to fix the issue.

vic ambulance
An Ambulance Victoria crew. PHOTO: Ambulance Victoria/Supplied

Crouch was already serving a suspended four-month prison sentence at the time for similar offending in March, 2022, for making four hoax calls to triple zero.

On April 4, 2024, Crouch pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court and was jailed for six months.

The prosecution informed the court that emergency services were the only people authorised to operate Telstra’s very high frequency (VHF) transmitters (called ‘repeaters’) located at Warrnambool’s Tower Hill and CBD.

The prosecution alleges Crouch had been using modified amateur radio transmitter(s) on AV’s radio frequencies, resulting in a loss of radio communications.

On June 14, 2023, police raided Crouch’s home and seized “a significant amount” of radio equipment.

Crouch did not obtain an amateur radio (foundation) licence until after the recent alleged offending occurred. He did not disclose to ACMA-accredited radio examiners of his past offending or matters still before the courts.

“He’d [Crouch] had been interested in radio communications since his teenage years … he found the sound soothing and used it in the background like white noise,” Crouch’s Legal Aid lawyer, Belinda Northey, told the court.

Ms Northey told the court: “Her client’s motivation for his offending was to stop a radio pirate located in Hamilton, who he claimed was interfering with AV’s transmissions to the point staff could not be heard.”

It all sounded “bizarre,” Ms Northey told Magistrate Gerard Lethbridge.

Mr Lethbridge accepted Crouch’s reduced moral culpability due to a ‘deprived childhood’ and ‘various psychological disorders’ but added “There comes a time when the protection of the community overwhelmed those factors.”

“Deliberately interfering with Ambulance Victoria’s ability to communicate is plainly something that potentially significantly endangers the community and those in need of desperate emergency medical assistance, “Mr Lethbridge said.

“It caused the longest dispatch outing that has ever occurred as a result of your malicious interference.

“This was persistent, ongoing and you only stopped when you were arrested.”

He was released on an 18-month community corrections order, including conditions to be under supervision, undergo mental health treatment and offender behaviour programs.

Crouch only recently obtained an amateur radio licence which allows him to modify radio transmitters and possess radio equipment, such as ambulance two-way radios.

Amateur radio operators are permitted on emergency services radio networks only in specific circumstances.

Many amateur radio operators VicNews spoke to are disgusted that their hobby has been bought into disrepute by the alleged offender.

Following the hearing, as police and custody officers attempted to take Crouch into custody he resisted.

A Warrnambool police spokesperson alleged Crouch bit a police officer and spat on a custody officer.

Crouch is expected to also be charged with assaulting and resisting emergency service workers, the police spokesperson added.

Crouch appealed his sentence and was released on appeal bail.
His next court appearance is scheduled for May.

Crouch also has a mention hearing at the Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court on Monday, August 12.

It is alleged that Crouch continues to cause harmful interference to other networks, including keying up and causing interference to amateur radio networks in Warrnambool.

According to, Crouch resides within the maidenhead locator QF11GP.

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