Quartet sentenced over theft and handling of computer equipment worth £188k from Ipswich Hospital

Andrew Leacock

Andrew Leacock - Credit: Archant

Four men, including two hospital IT workers, have been jailed or given suspended prison sentences for their part in the theft and handling of computer equipment worth more than £188,000 from Ipswich Hospital.

Over a period of two years Andrew Leacock, an IT contractor at the Heath Road site, had run “a business” selling hospital computer equipment on eBay and to a local shop worker and a computer company director, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Simon Gladwell, prosecuting, said Leacock, who was a “trusted” member of staff, had access to all new computer equipment and on some occasions had offered items for sale before they had even arrived at the hospital.

The thefts were discovered when a number of brand new iPads disappeared from a secure room at the hospital and an audit revealed 500 items of computer equipment, including 378 desktop computers, 52 laptops and 70 iPads, were missing.

An investigation found Leacock had regulary sold computer equipment belonging to the hospital to Shane Dawson, who worked for PC Factory, Ipswich, and to Philip Goldsmith, director of computer company, Scrumpymacs.

A fourth defendant, Graham Sherlock, who worked in the hospital’s IT department and was repsonsible for dealing with computer equipment to be scrapped or recycled, was charged with theft after it was discovered he had kept scrapped items and sold them on eBay after repairing them.

Leacock, 50, of Diamond Close, Ipswich, admitted theft of computer equipment worth £94,450 between January 18, 2011, and May 30, 2013, from Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, converting criminal property and theft of boxes of copier paper. He was described as the “lynchpin” of the fraud and was jailed for three years and three months.

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Sherlock, 62, of Mendlesham Green, admitted theft of computer equipment worth £17,500 and converting criminal property and was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 250 hours unpaid community work. He was also made the subject of a £17,500 confiscation order, of which £6,910 will be paid as compensation to Ipswich Hospital, and pay £313 prosecution costs.

Goldsmith, 44, of Tuddenham Avenue, Ipswich, admitted handling stolen computer equipment worth £22,628 and converting criminal property. He was given a 14-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 250 hours unpaid community work.

Dawson, 33, of Surbiton Road, had denied handling stolen computer equipment worth £20,236 and converting criminal property but was found guilty after a trial last year. He was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for one year, ordered to do 250 hours unpaid community work and pay £3,500 costs.

Dawson was ordered to pay a nominal £1 confiscation order after the court heard he had no available assets. Confiscation hearings in relation to Goldsmith and Leacock will take place at a later date.

Sentencing the men, Recorder Ian Evans said the loss to Ipswich Hospital was £188,000. “I have read a statement from the hospital which highlights the impact that such a loss has on the reputation of the hospital, the trust of the public and the financial implications for an institution which we all know is severely under stress.”

Hugh Vass, for Leacock, compared what his client had done to Ipswich Hospital as being “a bit like mugging a disabled grandmother”.

“This was clearly about greed. He took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself and he did what he did because he could do it,” said Mr Vass.

Neil Saunders, for Dawson, said his client had no previous convictions and saw the chance to buy the hospital computers as “an opportunity that was too good to be true”.

Lynne Shirley, for Goldsmith, said his business Scrumpymacs had gone into administration after police seized all its computers and he accepted he shouldn’t have acted in the way he did.

Joanne Eley, for Sherlock, said her client accepted taking computer equipment that was going to be scrapped and selling it on eBay after repairing it.