Sunderland patient stole ill policeman's phone while he slept in South Tyneside District Hospital ward

A patient who pinched a poorly policeman’s mobile phone while he slept on a hospital ward after he was rushed in for treatment has been warned he could be jailed.

Sneak thief Terry Donaldson, 38, took the Apple iPhone after it seeing it plugged and charging but hidden in the officer’s bag while they shared the same ward at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The policeman was alerted when he was woken by a disturbance – and spotted the device missing, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

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He summoned nurses who in turn called security, and Donaldson, of St Leonards Street, Hendon, Sunderland, was nabbed just yards away on Wednesday, April 29.

South Tyneside District Hospital, Harton LaneSouth Tyneside District Hospital, Harton Lane
South Tyneside District Hospital, Harton Lane

District Judge Paul Currer told Donaldson, who appeared in the dock to admit the theft, that prison was an option when the court reconvenes for sentencing on Friday, June 19.

He said: “I consider this a particularly mean and unpleasant offence. It’s a despicable thing to do.”

Prosecutor Glenda Beck told the hearing: “The injured party was a policeman who had been admitted to the hospital on April 23. He was an emergency admission.

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“On April 29 the defendant was admitted to the same ward. The policeman had left his Apple iPhone charging in a bag by his bedside.

“He checked his bag for his mobile phone. He suggested that the defendant had taken it.

“He asked the nursing staff to check the defendant’s coat, and the mobile phone was produced.

“The defendant said that it was his phone, but when it was turned on, the images showed that it was the complainant’s.”

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Amy Hossack, defending, said: “Mr Donaldson presented at the hospital because he was unwell. He had taken quite a concoction of prescribed medication.

“It appears that he was frantically trying to find a mobile phone to contact his mother, and nobody on the ward would lend them their phone.

“He’s taken it upon himself to take it from a sleeping man.”

Donaldson also pleaded guilty to breaching his bail conditions by entering South Tyneside on June 5 when forbidden in relation to the theft charge.

He was granted bail.

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