I was drunk and thirsty, blood thief tells court

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2007, 12:00am

An unemployed man who last month drank blood he stole at Yan Chai Hospital said he did it because he was drunk and 'extremely thirsty', a court heard yesterday.

Hospital surveillance cameras showed the man, who was dressed in black, walk to the laboratory counter, take three tubes containing blood samples, drink the contents of two and then dump the vials in the lift lobby in the early hours of September 13.

Li Man-yiu, 29, who had confessed to being the man in the camera footage, was sentenced to two months in jail by the Tsuen Wan Court yesterday after pleading guilty to theft.

Li, of Shek Lei Estate in Kwai Chung, had gone to the hospital for treatment to an injured toe and was on his way to the dispensary when he took the blood.

He said he had been 'extremely thirsty' when he took three vials of 'liquid' from the laboratory. He realised they contained blood only after drinking the contents of two, he told the court.

He dumped the third vial and rushed to the toilet to vomit.

The court heard that he had consumed three bottles of rice wine and two cans of beer before going to the hospital.

Principal magistrate Andrew Ma Hon-cheung accepted that the defendant drank the blood under the influence of alcohol. But he lashed out at the hospital for security so lax that it allowed the public to tamper with blood samples.

'The hospital lacks protection for its patients and this led to the incident, and the court wishes to see improvement,' the magistrate said in his ruling.

A spokesman for the hospital said it had improved the design of its sample collection boxes to avoid similar incidents.

The hospital had also set up a special taskforce to conduct a comprehensive review of its security arrangements. The taskforce had already made suggestions to remedy potential risks.

A hospital porter delivered the samples, contained in a plastic bag, to the laboratory at 4am on September 13. When she found nobody at the reception counter, she dropped off the tubes through an opening in the counter's glass pane, leaving them unattended.

The tubes were later recovered from a rubbish bin in the lift lobby used to collect plastic bottles for recycling.