Thieves stole from hospital doctors

CROOKS who posed as Ipswich Hospital staff as part of their countrywide plot to steal thousands of pounds are behind bars today.

CROOKS who posed as Ipswich Hospital staff as part of their countrywide plot to steal thousands of pounds are behind bars today.

The gang known as the Coventry Falcons targeted hospitals throughout the country until a police officer at Ipswich Hospital helped to bring them to justice.

Now George Quinn, Gary O'Neil and Lee Watson are all serving lengthy jail terms after spending eight months breaking into doctors' lockers in hospitals across the country, taking cash and cards. In total they stole £109,629.

Pc Jane Corbett, Ipswich Hospital's police officer, said she was pleased they had finally been brought to justice after an investigation which spanned 14 police forces.

She said: “I'm really pleased they've been caught - chuffed to bits. It was quite a complicated case. It was a really big operation.

“The day they came to Ipswich they did another job at Bury St Edmunds' West Suffolk Hospital where they'd stolen another wallet.”

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She added that although she could be certain Quinn was involved with the theft from Ipswich Hospital it was impossible to be totally sure if O'Neil and Watson were also in on the crime because of the poor quality of the CCTV images.

On July 12, 2007 at least two men walked into Ipswich Hospital dressed in staff clothes and with hospital passes that had twisted around so the front of the badges could not be seen.

They sneaked into a locker room where they found a wallet belonging to an anaesthetist who had forgotten to lock his coat safely away.

The criminals had been challenged by a member of staff but had said they were carrying out an audit for hospital cleaners OCS and were allowed to pass.

Pc Jane Corbett, who investigated the theft, said: “That was at about 9am and it was not until 3pm that the victim received a call from his bank saying 'we think we've stopped someone taking money from your account'.”

Some money had already been taken from the anaesthetist's account through a withdrawal at an Ipswich bank.

Pc Corbett used that bank's CCTV footage, the description of the criminal from the person who challenged him, and nationwide information about the criminal gang targeting hospitals, to prove the man had been George Quinn.

She added: “He was arrested and I went to interview him at Durham. As soon as I walked into the room I knew it was him.”

Does more need to be done to improve security at hospital's? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The court case

DURING a court case at Carlisle Crown Court it emerged George Quinn, Gary O'Neil and Lee Watson dressed smartly and even wore stethoscopes and name badges to make people think they were genuine health workers.

They stole cards and would then use them at banks or in shops, emptying accounts of thousands of pounds.

On some occasions, the gang even called up victims posing as police officers or bank officials to trick them into divulging PINs.

They became unstuck when they targeted the Cumberland Infirmary last June where they took the credit cards and driving licence of Dr Dylan Jones, who was in theatre.

Less than two hours later, they walked into the Royal Bank of Scotland where Quinn withdrew £4,200, posing as Dr Jones.

He tried the same thing at another branch but the clerk became suspicious because she knew the real Dr Jones.

He left the bank and got into a green Mondeo - the registration was noted by bank staff - and police were called.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, told Carlisle Crown Court: “The green Mondeo was stopped by police at St Nicholas Gate with three occupants.

“Two fled leaving Watson in the car.”

The capture of Watson prompted a huge police investigation - led by DC Gary Watson.

Today O'Neil, 36, is starting a three-year sentence after admitting charges of conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to obtain property by deception.

Quinn, 41, and Watson, 39, are serving a four-and-a-half-year sentences after pleading guilty to the same offences.

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