A burglar who raided hospital lockers as NHS staff battled to save lives at the height of the coronavirus pandemic has been jailed.
Ashley Giles, 25, was confronted by a health care worker who had just finished a 12-hour shift after he had broken into four lockers, Leeds Crown Court heard.
The woman approached Giles and asked him what he was doing after realising he wasn’t a member of staff at St James’ Hospital in Leeds.
Giles told the woman he had been “reading a newspaper” before quickly walking away.
After he left, the staff member went back into the room and found her locker had been forced open and her handbag was missing.
After she alerted security officers, Giles was chased out of the hospital and managed to escape.
But the defendant’s hat fell from his head during the pursuit, which contained his DNA and led to his arrest.
Giles, from Leeds, was jailed for 32 months on Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to burglary.
Judge Robin Mairs, sentencing, told the defendant key workers needed to be protected from "predatory burglars" like him.
Judge Mairs said: "At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a health assistant finished her 12-hour shift and went to the locker room.
"She was obviously exhausted and wanting to make her way home.
"She was confronted by you. You had gone in there to steal.
"To steal from those members of the community who were sacrificing themselves to work for the greater good of the community.”
The judge added: "Those who work in the vulnerable settings of our hospitals deserve and will have the protection of our courts.
"They need protection from predatory burglars such as you."
Stephen Welford, mitigating, said Giles committed the offence when he was homeless and needed money to fund his class A drug addiction.
Giles was interviewed about the offence and said he was under the influence of heroin and cocaine at the time and could not recall much about the incident.
The court heard he has criminal convictions dating back to the age of 11 and had previously served jail terms in the past for burglary.
Giles also served a 12-week prison sentence earlier this year for assaulting an emergency worker.