Pair jailed after cutting cable of Shrewsbury hospital's MRI scanner

Two men have been jailed after they almost wrecked Shropshire’s new £1.3 million mobile MRI scanner by cutting the power cable to sell for scrap.

Eric Bennett, left, and Ricky Filmer
Eric Bennett, left, and Ricky Filmer

Worried patients were forced to wait for scans and hospital bosses faced a £9,000 repair bill after Ricky Filmer and Eric Bennett stole 15 metres of cable from the Nuffield Hospital in Shrewsbury.

Nine scans had to be rearranged despite hospital staff working overtime to see patients, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard yesterday.

Judge Peter Barrie told Filmer and Bennett that it was only by ‘good fortune’ that power was restored to prevent the machine being destroyed.

Filmer, Bennett and a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, all admitted theft at an earlier hearing, although their accounts of who did what varied.

Filmer, 23, of New Park Road, Shrewsbury, was jailed for 16 months and Bennett, 24, of Lime Grove, Oswestry, was sentenced to 15 months. The youth will be sentenced on Friday.

Judge Barrie said: “It is common for courts to see cases where people who steal and burgle cause harm far out of proportion to any gain they might expect to get from it. This is a spectacular example of that.

“You made the hospital have to spend nearly £9,000 in repairs. It was only by good fortune the power was restored – if it hadn’t the machine might have been destroyed.

“All for the sake of few quid you might have got from a dodgy scrap dealer.”

Mr Kevin Jones, prosecuting, said the theft was only discovered when police found the cable in Bennett’s car after it was seen driving ‘erratically’ through Shrewsbury.

Mr Mike Sherwood-Smith, for Bennett, said his client had ‘gone along’ with the theft and would not have got involved if he had known what the scanner was used for.

Mr Nicholas Smith, for Filmer, said the young father had made great efforts to get his life on track and regretted deeply that he had let himself and society down.