Northern Ireland news

Patient given suspended sentence for hospital burglary

A patient who burgled staff quarters at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital was suffering from an epileptic fit, a court has heard

A patient who burgled staff quarters at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital was suffering from an epileptic fit, a court has heard.

Robert McGivern claimed he could not remember taking a hooded top, earphones and £6 in cash from the locker room.

The 46-year-old, of Fitzwilliam Street in the city, was given a five-month suspended jail sentence.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he carried out the raid after being admitted to the hospital on June 17 this year.

Police were alerted when a member of staff realised his personal belongings were missing.

When CCTV footage was checked the victim recognised McGivern as someone he had treated.

The defendant was arrested later and said he had no recollection of being in the staff changing room.

He told police he had not taken his proper medication in weeks and was embarrassed at lifting someone else's possessions.

The top and cash were said to have been returned.

McGivern admitted a charge of burglary of a non-dwelling.

Defence solicitor Pearse MacDermott described it as a technical burglary, but accepted his client had gone into an area of the hospital without permission.

"He said he was very dazed at the time," the lawyer added.

"He was having an epileptic seizure, but accepts these items weren't his."

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall told the lawyer she was "not particularly attracted" to McGivern's explanation.

Imposing five months custody, suspended for 18 months, she said: "The strong aggravating factor is that he was in The Royal (Victoria Hospital)."

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Northern Ireland news