Ipswich Hospital computer thefts: Four men sentenced

Andrew Leacock, Ipswich Hospital thefts Image copyright BBC/Suffolk police
Image caption Andrew Leacock "violated and abused his position" as IT contractor at Ipswich Hospital

Four men, including an IT contractor, have been sentenced for their role in stealing 500 computers worth £188,900 from a NHS hospital.

Laptops, tablets and desktop computers were taken from Ipswich Hospital between 2011 and 2013.

Computer technician Andrew Leacock, 50, of Diamond Close, Ipswich, admitted theft and was jailed for three years and three months.

Three other men have been given suspended jail sentences.

Ipswich Crown Court heard the haul of equipment included 370 unused desktop computers, 50 laptops and 70 iPads.

£1 repayment order

Det Con Nicola Wallace said: "The impact of these selfish crimes has undoubtedly hindered the efficiency and running of Ipswich Hospital.

"To take advantage of an institution like the NHS has a knock-on effect on all of us.

"Andrew Leacock had been employed as an IT contractor for the hospital, but violated and abused his position."

Shane Dawson, 33, of Surbiton Road, Ipswich, was found guilty of handing stolen goods during a trail at Ipswich Crown Court in October.

He was given an 18-month suspended sentence and, although he handled about £20,000 of stolen equipment, he was ordered to pay a £1 confiscation order after the court heard he had no available funds.

Philip Goldsmith, 45, of Tuddenham Avenue in Ipswich, admitted handling stolen goods and converting computer equipment into money and was given a 14-month jail sentence suspended for a year.

Graham Sherlock, 62, of Mendlesham Green, near Stowmarket, had been a technician employed directly by the hospital.

He pleaded guilty to theft and converting criminal property into money and received a 12-month jail sentence suspended for a year.

The court gave Sherlock a £17,520 confiscation order of which £6,910 will be paid direct to the hospital.

Dawson, Sherlock and Goldsmith were also ordered to each carry out 250 hours of unpaid community work.

NHS Protect, the health service's national anti-crime agency, said other hospitals should double-check their own security systems.

Nick Martin, area security manager at NHS Protect, said: "Computer equipment remains a popular target for criminals as it is portable, valuable and attractive to unscrupulous dealers.

"This jail sentence is a warning to thieves they cannot expect to get away with stealing property from the NHS."

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