Heartless Rugby man steals Xbox from children’s ward after being treated for an overdose in hospital

Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits
Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits

A heartless Rugby man stole a computer games console from the children’s ward of a hospital in what a judge described as the ‘meanest offence in his list’.

And to make matters worse, ungrateful Ryan Palmer had just been treated himself at University Hospital in Coventry after taking a suspected overdose.

In that ward were a number of seriously ill children or children recovering from operations and in you went and helped yourself with a view to getting something valuable which you could then sell to get some cash to get drugs. Unbelievable!

Recorder Kevin Hegarty QC

Palmer, 36, of The Kent, Rugby, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to burglary at the hospital’s children’s ward.

But despite the ‘unbelievable’ meanness of his offence, after spending time in custody on remand, he was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Prosecutor Ian Ball said that in February Palmer was admitted to Coventry’s University Hospital with a suspected overdose, and was kept in overnight before discharging himself.

Shortly after 1pm that day a member of the hospital security staff who was monitoring the CCTV cameras saw him near the ramp outside the maternity unit.

He was bending over rummaging in a canvas bag, and when the camera was zoomed in an Xbox console with a hospital sticker on it could clearly be seen.

Palmer was challenged, and when it was found that the Xbox had been stolen from the children’s ward at the hospital he complained he had not been given the medication he needed.

Palmer then took out a packet of codeine phosphate tablets and took four or five of them before the security officer managed to get them from him, believing he was deliberately overdosing.

Mr Ball pointed out that Palmer had other items in the bag, including a hospital bible and goods which could have come from a shop at the hospital, but had not been charged in relation to those.

The police were called and he was arrested; but after being taken to the police station it was suspected he had taken another overdose, so was taken back to the hospital where he was uncooperative and threatened police officers.

Back at the police station an attempt was made to interview him in his cell – but he kept flushing the toilet and singing to block out the officers’ questions.

Mr Ball added that Palmer had 27 pages of previous convictions for offences including burglaries.

Recorder Kevin Hegarty QC said: “It is the meanest offence in the list today, stealing from a children’s ward.

“This is something that was there for the children on that ward to help distract them momentarily from the seriousness of their illness.”

David Murray, defending, said: “He was in the hospital himself as an in-patient. Perhaps it was only a matter of chance that it was the children’s ward he passed on his way out after discharging himself.”

Pointing out that Palmer had spent ‘a significant period’ in custody since his arrest, during which he had engaged with the drug support team, Mr Murray argued: “I suggest that despite his previous convictions, this is a man who might be worth a chance.”

Sentencing Palmer, Recorder Hegarty told him: “Anybody who’s listened to this case, who had even the smallest amount of decency, would consider you to be among the lowest form of life to appear in the list at this court.

“For a person who has been in hospital as a patient or a visitor to think ‘I know what I’ll do on my way out, I’ll make my way into the children’s ward and see what I can nick.’

“In that ward were a number of seriously ill children or children recovering from operations; and in you went and helped yourself with a view to getting something valuable which you could then sell to get some cash to get drugs. Unbelievable!”

Recorder Hegarty, who also ordered Palmer to take part in a drug rehabilitation programme, added: “There is a guideline to deal with domestic burglary, which this is not, and a guideline to deal with non-domestic burglary, which this is not.

“I don’t think anyone anticipated someone burgling the children’s ward of a hospital.”