The heartless parents who stole laptops from a children’s cancer ward – and blamed their terminally-ill son – have been jailed.
Kim Ager, 34, and Matthew Ingham, 37, pocketed projection equipment and laptops – then sold them on Facebook for a fraction of their value.
But when police caught up with the jobless duo, they tried to pin the blame on their sick son, Callum, now 10.
The court heard the equipment, including projectors worth £874.25 each, and laptops worth £200-£540, disappeared from Ward 31 of Leeds General Infirmary, West Yorkshire, between July 1 and July 10 last year.
They were discovered missing by Jo Shepheard, the director of the charity Candlelighters, which had provided the equipment to help sick children keep in touch with their families.
Heather Gilmour, prosecuting, told the court that the laptops had been attached to the beds with hospital security tags.
Ingham claimed he had removed the laptops from their fixtures because Callum wanted to see him test his strength.
Ager then sold the laptops for £50-£60 via her Facebook page, saying that they were “ex-office equipment” and she could “get as many as she liked”.
A member of staff at the hospital contacted the police after seeing the laptops on Ager’s Facebook page, the court heard.
When police arrived to arrest Ingham at his home in Keighley, West Yorkshire, he told them: “I did it. I stole the lot."
But he later changed his story, saying his son was responsible – which Ager also claimed.
Guilty: While Matthew Ingham initally confessed to the theft, he later changed his story (SWNS)
A report by the probation service said that Ingham had been spending £40 a day on heroin and crack cocaine during the time of the thefts.
The report said Ager had claimed she was "terrified” of Ingham and their 17-year relationship was “extremely volatile”.
Julian White, mitigating for Ager, said: “She is not seeking to blame Matthew Ingham. She accepts what she did.
"Mr Ingham’s drug addiction played a significant impact on the deterioration of the relationship.
"Her child has been in an out of hospital. His illness is severe, the prognosis is not good. She needs to get back to being a proper mother.”
Glenn Parsons, for Ingham, said: “He appears before this court a broken man. He has lost his good name. He is reviled by his community.
"When Callum was ill Mr Ingham spent 12 hours a day at his bedside at time. He then started taking drugs and became addicted. He then tried to pay his debts by stealing. That is despicable.”
Ingham was found guilty of four counts of theft after trial, while Ager pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods.
Ingham was jailed for two years, while Ager, of Ilkley, West Yorkshire, was jailed for nine months.
Judge Sally Cahill condemned the now-separated pair, saying,“It is difficult to find a word how despicable this offending was.”