A HOSPITAL contractor who helped himself to "vital" laptops ordered for an Essex hospital during the Covid pandemic has been jailed for 15 months.

Francisco Maya, 37, was working at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow during May and June 2020, when several laptops were ordered to support the work of hospital staff.

Maya then stole as many as 20 of these laptops from the hospital over two months, leaving the boxes they arrived in at the hospital to avoid being detected.

He sold several of these online and when the serial numbers were checked by the new owners, the manufacturer was alerted that they were stolen.

Maya, of Dagenham Road, Dagenham, was arrested in July 2020 and denied a charge of theft. Following a three-day trial at Chelmsford Crown Court earlier this year he was found guilty was sentenced to 15 months in prison at the same court on Friday.

Essex Police constable Rhianna Mills, who led the investigation, said: “While NHS doctors, nurses and staff were busy trying to help the nation at a time of crisis, Maya was helping himself to vital equipment they needed to keep the hospital working in the pandemic.

“Throughout this investigation and trial, he showed no remorse for his crime. He can now reflect on his behaviour from prison.”

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS trust thanked the force for its support during the investigation.

Phil Holland, chief information officer at the trust, said: “This IT equipment was extremely important to facilitate the care of our patients and to deliver hospital services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We take any incidents of stealing from our hospitals extremely seriously and this will not be tolerated. Our thanks goes to Essex Police for their support.”