A VISITOR to Cumbria stole a defibrillator from a community first responder who was helping a suspected heart attack victim.

Thirty-five-year-old Thomas Paul McNaught later told police that he accepted the theft was a "horrible thing to do" and did not know why he stole the machine, which he could neither use nor sell. 

The defendant pleaded guilty to theft.

Pam Ward, prosecuting at Carlisle’s Rickergate court, described how the defendant was on the platform at the Oxenholme Railway Station near Kendal shortly before 7pm on December 1 when a woman suffered a suspected heart attack and collapsed on the platform.

The first responder was sent and arrived with medical kit that included the defibrillator, though in the event the device was not needed. After a short while, an ambulance crew arrived, and the casualty was taken to hospital.

It was as the community first-aid volunteer was collecting her kit that he realised the defibrillator was missing. 

Nick Kennon, for McNaught, began the defendant’s mitigation by offering the court an apology on his client’s behalf.

The lawyer said: “You will see from the [background] report that he has expressed genuine remorse. He has no recollection of this and lacks recall. He has displayed shame and described his actions as horrible.

“He wouldn’t know what to do with it [the defibrillator]. This offence is as inexplicable as it is unacceptable. My client does not seek to excuse his behaviour but he is working with support services to try to understand what’s going on.”

Mr Kennon said the defendant’s background included a traumatic brain injury in 2005 which left him suffering memory lapses. McNaught was still under the case of neurological services.

Though what happened could have had dire consequences, said Mr Kennon, it must have been a spur of the moment decision. The defendant needed support in almost everything that he does.

He had kept out of trouble since 2011 but following a relationship break-up he found himself with a “poor cohort” of friends and topped up his anti-depression medication with street Valium.

Accepting that McNaught, of Hathaway Lane, Glasgow, needed punishment, Mr Kennon said the defendant was now drug and alcohol free.

Magistrates noted the defendant’s apology and that he had no memory of the theft and his inability to understand what he did it. 

Magistrates had concluded there was a realistic prospect that the defendant can be rehabilitated.

Bearing that in mind they imposed 26 weeks jail but suspended the sentence for a year and imposed ten days of rehabilitation. The bench noted also that Probation Service officials felt McNaught was improving.

He must pay £1,200 compensation for the defibrillator, settling that debt at a rate of £10 per week. There was no order for costs or a victim surcharge as compensation was given priority.