Drunk hospital visitor snatched laughing gas from ambulance at A&E
- Credit: Suffolk Constabulary
A heavily intoxicated hospital visitor tried to steal laughing gas from an ambulance occupied by paramedics and a patient.
Lee Perry was chased from West Suffolk Hospital after swiping a canister of gas-and-air from an unoccupied ambulance at about 4.30pm on Monday.
Minutes later, the 27-year-old was caught attempting to grab a second bottle from another ambulance parked outside A&E.
Perry, of no fixed address, admitted theft and attempted theft from a motor vehicle at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Ian Devine said Perry was chased into a woodland after snatching a can of Entonox - a mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide - from the equipment storage compartment of empty ambulance.
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"He was next seen putting his arm inside another ambulance in order to take another bottle," he added.
"That ambulance was occupied by two paramedics and a patient waiting to be admitted to A&E.
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"They saw a warning light come on inside the ambulance, and then saw an arm inside the compartment, seeking to grab the bottle."
Perry was arrested after being apprehended and detained by paramedics a short distance away.
He later recalled drinking a few beers and most of a bottle of brandy before tagging along to hospital with his brother, who was accompanying his partner to an antenatal appointment.
Mr Devine told magistrates Perry had 26 previous convictions for 50 offences and was serving a 12-month community order imposed last September.
"Had paramedics not been so eagle-eyed, it's possible they would have attended an emergency in ignorance of the bottles being stolen," he said.
"Perhaps it would be wise for Mr Perry to cut down on his alcohol consumption."
The probation service said Perry had declined a number of opportunities to get help for substance misuse, including on the day of his arrest.
Jo Paton, mitigating, said Perry remembered little of events leading up to his detention and was disappointed to have potentially thrown away his chance of receiving treatment.
"He has been homeless for a couple of years and needs to get back into a routine, or his life will become more chaotic," she added.
Perry was jailed for a total of 24 weeks.