A CROOKED NHS worker has been warned his is facing more than three years in prison after admitting stealing laptops and selling them.

Neil Murthick stole 27 laptops, worth more than £12,000, while working as an agency worker in the IT department at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

Initially, the 42-year-old was charged with theft of more than 40 computers but the prosecution had to take the word of a 'dishonest man' and only include the 27 he admitted stealing.

The majority of the thefts took place when NHS staff were working tirelessly to combat the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Murthick had stolen them between December 31 last year and May 27.

Rachel Butt, prosecuting, said: "It would appear that the hospital didn't keep a proper record of the computers and laptops that were on the site. Following an investigation they were unable to say how many were missing."

Judge Jonathan Carroll said: "That is just staggering, public money paid for these laptops and know one is able to tell me how many are missing – we are having to rely on the word of a dishonest man."

Murthwick, of Inglewood Close, Darlington, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by employee when earlier appeared in magistrates' court.

The defendant was given seven days to secure legal representation before he is sentenced on November 2.

Speaking after the hearing, a spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have robust processes in place which identified that a number of new items of IT equipment were missing. An internal investigation was undertaken, subsequent to which our findings were referred to the Police.

"This theft was particularly disappointing given that it was at a time when our staff were working incredibly hard caring for large numbers of patients with Covid-19.”