'Predatory' burglar raided locker room at St James' Hospital in Leeds and stole from 'exhausted' NHS staff as they fought to save lives during height of Covid-19 pandemic
A 'predatory' burglar raided a staff locker room at St James' Hospital as exhausted NHS staff were battling to save lives at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ashley Giles was jailed for 32 months after a court heard how he broke into four lockers at the hospital on April 30 this year and stole victims' private belongings.
Leeds Crown Court heard a health care worker saw Giles coming out of the room shortly after she had finished a 12-hour shift.
The woman confronted Giles and asked him what he was doing when she realised he was not a member of staff.
Giles told the woman he had been in the locker room "reading a newspaper" before quickly walking away onto the ward.
The staff member went into the room and saw that her locker had been forced open and her handbag was missing.
She then saw the bag on a chair nearby.
It had been opened and items had been removed.
Three other lockers had also been forced open.
The woman ran back onto the hospital ward and contacted security officers.
The officers saw Giles and ran after him but he managed to get away.
The defendant's hat fell from his head during the chase.
Police were contacted and Giles' hat was recovered by officers.
It was later found to contain his DNA and he was arrested.
Giles was interviewed about the offence and said he was under the influence of heroin and cocaine at the time and could not recall much about the incident.
Giles, 25, of Northcote Crescent, Beeston, pleaded guilty to burglary.
The court heard he has criminal convictions dating back to the age of 11.
He has served jail terms in the past for burglary.
Giles also served a 12-week prison sentence earlier this year for assaulting an emergency worker.
Stephen Welford, mitigating, said Giles committed the offence when he was homeless and needed money to fund his class A drug addiction.
Jailing Giles, Judge Robin Mairs said: "At the height of the Covic-19 pandemic, a health assistant finished her 12-hour shift and went to the locker room.
"She was obviously exhausted and wanting to make her way home.
"She was confronted by you. You had gone in there to steal.
"To steal from those members of the community who were sacrificing themselves to work for the greater good of the community.
"You made your way to that locker room. You knew well it was a staff locker room and you knew well from whom you were stealing.
"Four members of NHS staff would come off their shift to discover their lockers had been emptied of their private belongings.
"Those who work in the vulnerable settings of our hospitals deserve and will have the protection of our courts.
"They need protection from predatory burglars such as you."
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