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Men jailed after power lines cut at hospital in Margate

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Media captionCCTV shows thieves cutting power lines at the hospital in Kent

Thieves who cut through cables at a hospital causing an electricity outage and an explosion have been jailed.

The five men targeted Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, which was forced to turn away patients on 20 February.

Police said the theft "could have meant the difference between life and death".

The men were jailed after admitting criminal damage with intent to endanger life and conspiring to steal at Birmingham Crown Court.

CCTV footage showed the group - James Kiely, Patrick Kiely, Noel Mahoney, Jonathan Whitty and Thomas Kiely - pulling up at the hospital in a van wearing high-vis vests and cutting the power cables.

It caused a small explosion which led to a power cut lasting more than three hours.

'Despicable'

Machines for life support and drug treatment for A&E patients and those in intensive care had to be powered by an emergency battery.

Targeting a hospital was "one of the lowest and most despicable acts", Det Insp Kristian Eberlein, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said.

All of the men, apart from 37-year-old James Kiely, of Darlingscote Road in Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire, admitted the offences at a hearing in Birmingham in October.

He was found not guilty of intending to endanger life and was jailed for three years and nine months for conspiracy to steal.

Image caption Patients needing A&E departments had to be diverted to other hospitals around east Kent

Noel Mahoney, 23, of Old Willow Close, Bow, London, was given five years and three months while Patrick Kiely, 35, of Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow, London, was sentenced to five years and eight months.

Jonathan Whitty, 38 of Fairfield Road, Bow, London, was given six years and four months.

Thomas Kiely, 27, of Tower Hamlets, was sentenced to seven years and four months. The sentence also takes into account an unrelated burglary committed in the London area.

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