'Deplorable' Leeds burglar plundered £25,000 worth of St James' Hospital equipment before coronavirus lockdown
A burglar stole vital training equipment during a break-in at St James' Hospital in Leeds as the NHS was preparing to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Gareth Tansey carried out the offence at the hospital's Clinical Practice Centre as the country was gearing up for lockdown.
Tansey and an unknown accomplice broke into the centre, at the hospital's Ashley Wing, overnight between March 5 and 6 this year.
Leeds Crown Court heard around £25,000 of electrical equipment was stolen.
Stolen property included lap top computers and virtual reality equipment which was ripped from the walls.
The court heard that so much equipment was taken that the burglars needed a van to take it away.
The 36-year-old career criminal was arrested after one of his fingerprints was recovered from the scene.
Tansey, of Stanley Road, Harehills, pleaded guilty to burglary.
He appeared in court via a video link from HMP Leeds.
The court heard he has 22 previous convictions for 36 offences.
The offence was committed while Tansey was the subject of a conditional discharge.
Stephen Welford, mitigating, said Tansey committed the offence to fund his addiction to class A drugs.
Mr Welford said the defendant had undergone a detox programme while in custody and was now motivated to stop committing offences.
The court heard Tansey's case had to be adjourned at an earlier hearing as he was in isolation in his prison cell after displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
Tansey was locked up for two years.
Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said: "You are no stranger to these courts.
"On March 5 or 6, before lockdown, but during a time when the difficulties of the coronavirus were known, you targeted the NHS.
"I find this offence of burglary to be in the highest category of non-domestic burglary.
"There was a significant degree of planning.
"By removing them from St James' Hospital, you removed the capacity they needed to teach and train students."
Peter Aldridge, General Manager for Security at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "We take security very seriously at the Trust and have a wide range of measures in place to protect our people and property.
“It is deplorable that anyone would steal equipment from an NHS hospital and we welcome this sentencing.
"We continue to work closely with the police to bring the perpetrators of any crimes committed against our people or property to justice.”
According the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust website, the Clinical Practice Centre boasts ten dedicated training rooms – each equipped with wash hand basins, data projectors, white boards, flips charts and cameras.
In addition to these rooms the centre also provides two observation rooms with viewing/control room and a simulated ward.
The Leeds Institute for Minimally Invasive Therapy (LIMIT) is based within the clinical practice centre and specialises in the delivery of surgical education and is equipped with a diverse range of facilities and equipment to deliver short practical sessions or full-day specialist conferences requiring practical sessions, lectures and breakout areas.