Sentence for MRI scanner thieves welcomed by hospital

Bosses at a Shropshire hospital today welcomed the jailing of two men who almost destroyed a mobile MRI scanner – saying it was lucky no patients were harmed.

Nuffield Hospital in Shrewsbury faced a £9,000 repair bill in May after Ricky Filmer and Eric Bennett stole 15 metres of cable from a new £1.3 million mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner.

Worried patients were forced to wait for scans – pictures taken of the insides of their bodies – after the pair cut the power cable to sell for it for scrap.

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

At Shrewsbury Crown Court on Wednesday, 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 is due to be sentenced today.

The theft meant nine scans had to be rearranged despite hospital staff working overtime to see patients.

Today, Mike Haffenden, Shrewsbury Nuffield’s hospital director, said it was lucky no patients were hurt.

He said: “Theft of this kind can cause delays for patients, some of whom need urgent treatment.

“Fortunately no one was harmed and we were able to minimise disruption.”

Mr Haffenden said he was ‘pleased’ the situation had been resolved.

During Wednesday’s hearing Judge Peter Barrie told Filmer and Bennett it was only by ‘good fortune’ power was restored to stop the machine being destroyed.

He said: “It is common for courts to see cases where people who steal and burgle cause harm far out of proportion to any gain. 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.