Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Jailed, the 'Meanest Thief' Who Stole from Dying Hospital Patients ; JUDGE ASKS CROOK: IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU? He Stalked Wards Looking for Victims

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Jailed, the 'Meanest Thief' Who Stole from Dying Hospital Patients ; JUDGE ASKS CROOK: IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU? He Stalked Wards Looking for Victims

Article excerpt

discuss it with the Court of Appeal, then you can."

ATHIEF who stalked hospital wards and preyed on dying patients was told he had committed the 'meanest' crime as he was jailed.

Evil John McNeil, 24, of no fixed address, went to two hospitals looking for vulnerable people to steal from.

Two of his victims died of cancer within days of McNeil entering their private rooms and helping himself to their possessions. He has now been jailed for three years and barred from several hospitals in the region. In an unusual move, Judge Lindsey Kushner QC invited prosecutors to appeal against the sentence if they felt he deserved more.

prosecutors to appeal against the sentence if they felt he deserved Earlier in the hearing, she noted how McNeil showed 'not a flicker' of shame in the dock.

Sentencing him, Judge Kushner urged McNeil, who admitted five counts of theft, to seek psychological help, saying: "The offences are so extreme that you wonder whether there is something unusually wrong with this defendant.

"I'm used to defendants who take advantage of vulnerable victims - but I've never come across somebody who targets people who are desperately ill.

"When you are in hospital and very ill one of the few causes of consolation you have is that you have got a bit of peace and quiet for yourself and you can be in contact with your friends and family. I can't imagine a meaner set of offences than these - unless somebody was dying at the roadside and you took their belongings off them."

Christopher Beckwith, prosecuting, told Manchester Crown Court that Tracey Rowland was suffering from terminal cancer and pneumonia when she fell victim to McNeil at Manchester Royal . On February 11, as she lay drowsy in her room on Ward 10, she noticed a man walk in. She later discovered her iPhone had been taken.

The same day, McNeil took a purse containing Pounds 123 from Deanna Walker, 41, who was also suffering from terminal cancer.

Tracey managed to give a statement before her death on March 12. …

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