A dad-of-two and former IT contractor deprived sick kids of learning after stealing £30,000 worth of iPads from a children’s hospital. Mohammed Moosbally robbed the expensive equipment, which was meant to go to the homes of ill children to help them with their development.
The 54-year-old was spared jail after the court heard of his personal circumstances, including his diagnosis of PTSD after witnessing the Hillsborough disaster, the ECHO reports.
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Moosbally sold the stolen iPads to pay for drugs and accommodation whilst he was sleeping rough, Liverpool Crown Court heard. One hundred new iPads worth £48,000 were delivered to Alder Hey Hospital on May 26 last year. The hospital has purchased the devices to send them to the homes of sick children.
Derek Jones, prosecuting, said the iPads were due to be loaned to children whose families couldn’t afford IT equipment and used for online consultations with staff. Mr Jones added: “An important consequence of these online consultations would mean the children would miss a lot less school.”
The court heard Alder Hey rented a shipping container from Merseyside Police in the secure car park of Eaton Road Police Station in West Derby. Using an identity pass, key fob and codes, hospital staff could enter an office there, where keys to the container were held in a safe.
But when hospital IT staff went to the container on November 10, Mr Jones said they discovered “every single one of those 100 iPads was missing”. Staff used Apple software to send a message to the iPads – appearing on the login screen – saying they belonged to Alder Hey.
A customer who had bought an iPad from CeX contacted the electronic exchange shop, which traced the device back to 54-year-old Moosbally. He had sold 40 of the iPads to CeX in St Helens for £200 each, using his own name. Alder Hey said he had worked for them as an IT contractor for 18 months, until June 30, 2021. Moosbally handed himself in to police on December 23, when he “had his NHS identity card upon him”.
He confessed to police and said he was struggling financially and had a cocaine habit. Moosbally told officers he only stole 60 iPads and had no idea they were destined for sick children.
I have admitted burgling the container several times between May and November. Mr Jones said the prosecution didn’t challenge that he only took 60 iPads – of which just 10 were returned to Alder Hey.
Moosbally, of Grassington Crescent, Halewood, has one previous conviction for theft by employee in 1997. Rebecca Smith, defending, said her client hadn’t understood at the time the iPads were for sick children.
She said Moosbally was “an educated man” with “a strong work ethic”, but PTSD had led to time off work and contributed to the breakdown of his marriage.
Ms Smith said he was too “ashamed and embarrassed” to ask for help from friends, colleagues or family, and when his role at Alder Hey ended, he started “living on the streets.”
She said he was “self-medicating” with cocaine and also spent cash on places to stay and “hide away” from his shame and what could be described as a “despicable” crime.
Ms Smith said Moosbally had now moved in with his elderly mum and dad, who have arthritis and cancer respectively, and supported them both. She said he had a good relationship with his ex-wife of him and two sons, aged 15 and 16, who he sees regularly, and they all would be affected if he was jailed. Ms Smith said his PTSD was worsened by him being “asked to attend a number of courts and inquests”.
Recorder Mary Prior, QC, said she required more information about Moosbally’s mental health problems before she passed sentence.
After making inquiries, Ms Smith told the court Moosbally was formally diagnosed with PTSD in 2012 after a spell as an inpatient, following a suicide attempt.
She said he suffered from heart problems and had now been referred for counseling via his GP. Recorder Prior told Moosbally: “You’re a father and carer for your parents, who have health difficulties. You’re an intelligent man, having obtained A-Levels and further education in computers. And during the period of time in May to November last year, you became a thief and a burglar.”
“While I accept you did not know precisely what those items were for, your learned counsel rightly acknowledges you were well aware they were for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, so they would have been required for the assistance of serious ill children, even if they were not placed directly into those children’s hands.”
The judge said: “I also accept that for a very significant part of your life you have been subject to trauma and the after effects of witnessing the horrific disaster at the Hillsborough stadium. I accept that you were a young person at that time and that the trauma that you felt and had to cope with has been exacerbated by numerous anniversaries, inquests, other difficulties, and the fact that for a very long period of time, it was not possible for this matter to be laid to rest.”
Recorder Prior said he made “serious attempts” on his life; she had “no doubt” his PTSD was partly why he became addicted to drugs “to cope with the memories and flashbacks”; and his parents and children of him would suffer if he was jailed.
The judge said: “None of those things is an excuse for offending – there are people who are going around this city day-to-day who suffered the same trauma as you did and who have not resorted to offending.”
However, Recorder Prior said “bearing in mind all that I have read and know about you”, she would suspend a sentence of 18 months in prison for two years. She handed him a 30-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, to “help you get a support plan in place for when times are difficult.” The judge also made a four-month home curfew, from 8pm to 8am daily.
A Proceeds of Crime Application hearing has been set for this summer.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.