Two female paramedics who used their job to steal prescription drugs from the homes of either dead or dying people have been jailed.
Ruth Lambert, 33, and Jessica Silvester, 29, dressed as nurses to gain access to patients' homes before raiding their medicine cabinet.
The vile pair were taking their painkillers, which had been intended to make their last few days more comfortable, because they were addicted to opiates.
The couple, who are in a relationship and engaged, described as "callous" and their actions an "astonishing abuse of position".
They were also found with a £14,000 ultrasound machine stolen from the NHS.
Lambert and Silvester were both paramedics at the South East Coast Ambulance Service, allowing them to review patient records and identify their next victim.
They exchanged WhatsApp messages about who they should target next before turning up at the address wearing official outfits so as not to raise suspicion.
The two women worked in tandem, with one researching the addresses and sending details to the other who would then pay them a visit and steal their medication.
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Over a period of nine months from December 2020, it is estimated the pair carried out 25 burglaries on the ambulance service and terminally ill patients in Thanet, Canterbury, Whitstable, Faversham and Herne Bay.
Widower Colin Singleton has spoken out after the drug addicted duo stole his wife’s crucial medication just hours after she passed away from cancer.
Mr Singleton said: "Within five hours of my wife’s death someone phoned me from the district nurses.
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"I couldn’t believe they would be so callous as to phone me so quickly, but they put me under pressure to come around and collect the drugs.
"They were there within five minutes.”
Their offences came to light in August 2021 after police received a number of reports of so-called distraction burglaries.
Silvester’s login details were used 1,847 times over a period of three months to access the NHS' computer system and review calls, an examination later revealed.
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They also kept a diary, logging addresses visited, the medication available and any notes of interest, such as if they were refused entry to a property.
The couple were arrested at their home in Gap Road, Margate on August 4, having been linked to a burglary in the area two days earlier.
Medications bearing the names of other people as well as nurses’ uniforms and NHS computer equipment were found when police searched their home.
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Both were sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to burgle and conspiring to commit theft at Canterbury Crown Court.
During their trial, Judge Rupert Lowe described their actions as an "extraordinarily callous and uncaring form of exploitation of the most vulnerable people – often, when they were terminally ill, or dying, or in some cases when they had actually died".
Their lawyers argued the pair had become addicted to opiates after becoming paramedics and discovering they helped treat their physical and mental pain.
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