A west Belfast man today admitted stealing various items from three vulnerable hospital patients, one of whom was under sedation.
Appearing in the dock of Belfast Crown Court in a track suit top and jeans, 22-year-old Gerard Madden pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary in side rooms of ward 5A at the Royal Victoria Hospital on October 15 last year.
One victim was Ken Reid, a senior top political correspondent at UTV who had his watch, mobile phone and head phones stolen while he was under sedation.
The other two female victims, one a pensioner and the other a double amputee, had their hand bags and mobile phones stolen.
During a previously failed bail application by Madden, from Aspen Park in Dunmurry, the court heard how one elderly patient was wakened from her sleep by a man standing beside her bed drinking from a bottle.
Another west Belfast man, 23-year-old Gareth Cotter from the Glenalina Road, has already pleaded guilty to the same offences and is awaiting sentence.
After Madden pleaded guilty today, Judge Gordon Kerr QC granted him compassionate bail on an unknown date so that he can be with his partner for the birth of their baby, allowing him to be with her for four hours after the birth.
"He will be released at an appropriate time and he will have a minimum of four hours but if it's one in the morning, he will be returned at the earliest opportunity as we cannot expect the jail to remain open" said the judge adding that "from personal experience you can't really tell when a baby is going to come".
Judge Kerr adjourned passing sentence on both men until pre-sentence probation reports have been compiled.