A GANG of cable thieves who put lives at risk by causing a power cut at a hospital have been jailed for more than 28 years.
The men — who were all wearing hi-viz jackets and hard hats — cut through cables connected to a generator, causing a small explosion.
They fled in a stolen white van before they could grab the cables but their ‘selfish and despicable’ acts put the lives of patients in the A&E and an intensive care unit at ‘serious risk’, a court heard.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother Hospital, in Margate, Kent, was left without power for three and a half hours after the bungled raid in February.
Patients on life-support and drug administration machines had to rely on emergency, battery-powered devices during the outage. And people needing treatment had to be diverted to other hospitals, which had the knock-on effect of delaying ambulance response times to other emergencies, a court heard.
Thomas Kiely, 27, of Tower Hamlets, east London, was jailed for seven years and four months after admitting attempted theft and criminal damage with intent to endanger life.
Accomplices Noel Mahoney, 23, Jonathan Whitty, 38, and Patrick Kiely, 35, all of Bow, east London, were each jailed for between five and six years for the same offences. James Kiely, 37, of Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, who admitted attempted theft but was cleared of criminal damage last month, was jailed for three years and nine months.
After the case at Birmingham crown court, Det Insp Kristian Eberlein, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: ‘All of this was done to make money from metal found in cables. The selfish acts of these men could have meant the difference between life and death for patients.
‘I hope the realisation of what they did stays with them. It is one of the most despicable acts I’ve seen.’