Former paramedics who posed as nurses to steal painkillers from terminally ill people in Kent jailed

  • Video report from ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Wilkins

Two former paramedics who posed as nurses to steal medication from terminally ill residents in Kent have been jailed.

Ruth Lambert, 33, and Jessica Silvester, 29, targeted patients receiving end-of-life care packages.

Kent detectives said the pair posed as nurses to gain access to the homes of patients in end-of-life care to steal morphine and other painkillers.

The stolen medication had originally been prescribed to some of the patients to make their final days as comfortable as possible.

Colin Singleton, from Strood, was called by the pair just hours after his wife died of cancer. They came to his door and demanded her medication.

  • Colin Singleton on how the pair demanded the medication of his dying wife

He said: "How can you do that to people? One of the cases, they actually took a dying man's morphine. All of it. He died the next day or the following day in pain, because he had no drugs left."

The duo had access to patient records through their work as paramedics with the South East Coast Ambulance Service, and would visit the addresses where they would steal the medication.

Lambert and Silvester worked in tandem, one researching the addresses and sending details to the other who would visit and steal as they targeted victims in Thanet, Canterbury, Whitstable, Faversham and Herne Bay.

The ambulance service said it was "shocked and saddened" by its former staff-members' actions.

South East Coast Ambulance Service said they took swift action to suspend the pair and report them to Kent Police. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The offending came to light in August 2021 when Kent Police began to receive a number of similar reports of distraction burglaries.

The pair were arrested on 4th August at their home in Gap Road, Margate, in relation to a burglary in the town two days earlier.

Upon their arrest, police officers searched their home and found medication bearing the names of other people as well as nurses’ uniforms and NHS computer equipment.

Officers established at least 25 burglaries had been carried out by Lambert and Silvester over a period of nine months from December 2020.

The investigation found they stole medication from three further properties by knocking on doors and convincing occupants they were collecting the medication for legitimate reasons after their loved ones had passed away.

They also carried out multiple thefts from the ambulance service between 2018 and 2021. During their enquiries, police were able to return medical equipment to the NHS, valued at over £14,000.

The pair pleaded guilty to conspiring to burgle and conspiring to commit theft, before being sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Tuesday to five years in prison.

Dr Fionna Moore, Medical Director for South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are shocked and saddened at the lengths to which these former members of staff went to, to commit their crimes and our thoughts are with all those affected.

“Their behaviour was a clear and targeted abuse of their position and does not reflect the commitment and integrity of our staff. As soon as we became aware of the allegations, we took swift action to suspend and then dismiss both individuals, working closely with Kent Police.”