Published: 15:05, 08 November 2019
| Updated: 15:06, 08 November 2019
A gang of crooks who put lives of seriously ill people in hospital at risk by causing a major power outage have been jailed for a total of more than 28 years.
The thieves, wearing hi-vis jackets and hard hats, went to the QEQM Hospital in Margate on the night of February 20 and cut through electrical cables connecting a large generator, causing a power cut and major incident to be declared by staff.
Patients in the A&E and intensive care unit departments who needed electrical machines for life-support and drug administration had to have their power provided by emergency battery power.
People needing A&E departments had to be diverted to other hospitals around east Kent, causing a knock-on impact to ambulances which were having to travel further away, making them unable to attend emergency calls for longer periods of time.
The outage was first recorded by the hospital at 7.15pm and was not restored until around 10.45pm.
CCTV footage was caught of the moments before the power outage and showed five men pull up in a van and cut the cables using bolt croppers, causing a small explosion.
This caused the five men, James Kiely, Patrick Kiely, Noel Mahoney, Jonathan Whitty and Thomas Kiely, to flee the scene.
All five men were charged with conspiring to steal and also criminal damage with intent to endanger life.
At Birmingham Crown Court, all charges were admitted by the men, except James Kiely who denied he had intended to endanger lives by his actions.
Following a trial he was found not guilty on October 6.
The five men were sentenced today to a total of more than 28 years.
Noel Mahoney, 23, of Old Willow Close, Bow in London was sentenced to five years and three months, Patrick Kiely, 35, of Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow, was sentenced to five years and eight months, and James Kiely, 37, of Darlingscote Road, Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire, sentenced to three years and nine months for conspiracy to steal
Jonathon Whitty, 38 of Fairfield Road, Bow, was sentenced to six years and four months, and Thomas Kiely, 27, of Tower Hamlets, jailed for seven years and four months.
The sentence also takes into account an unrelated burglary committed in the London area.
Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Kristian Eberlein from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate says it was done to make money from the metals found in cabling.
"The selfish acts of these five men could have meant the difference between life and death for patients reliant on the life-saving treatment at the hospital.
"In the hospital, staff work so hard day in, day out, to keep people alive and ensure they are brought back to good health and given the best chance of life.
"To then have to work in such trying conditions with emergency power supplies, brought on by the despicable and deliberate acts of these men, makes the work of the hospital staff all the more commendable.
"There can be no justification for the group’s actions, it is obvious the theft would risk patients’ lives, and I hope the realisation of the severity of what they did stays with them.
"These criminals targeted a hospital and to suggest it is one of the lowest and most despicable acts I’ve seen doesn’t begin to describe it."
More by this authorMarijke Hall