COVID denier 'snuck into hospital and told critically ill friend to take off oxygen mask'

·2-min read
Tobe Hayden Leigh, 45, allegedly entered the restricted area of East Surrey Hospital. (SWNS)
Tobe Hayden Leigh, 45, allegedly entered the restricted area of East Surrey Hospital. (SWNS)

A COVID denier snuck into a critical care ward and told his sick friend to take off his oxygen mask, a court heard.

Tobe Hayden Leigh, 45, allegedly entered the restricted area of East Surrey Hospital, in Redhill, on 21 January when England was in the middle of a national lockdown.

He is said to have entered through a door that was normally locked but in the process of closing.

Once inside he told his friend to take his oxygen mask off, before doctors warned he would die without it, Guildford Magistrates’ Court heard.

Police attended the scene, where they issued two others with fines for breach of COVID regulations and issued a breach of the peace warning, prompting a group to leave.

It is claimed Hayden Leigh was told to leave, but refused, and is alleged to have threatened assault if he was touched.

Hayden Leigh, of Maidstone, Kent, was later arrested at a friend's house.

When questioned by police he said he had a lawful excuse for being at the hospital as he genuinely believed his friend's life was in danger and stated he caused no problem, the court heard.

During a hearing Leigh refused to enter a plea, telling the bench he is the victim of malicious prosecution.

He was warned by the chairman of bench Dr Janet Page that not entering a plea would mean an automatic plea of not guilty would be accepted.

Georgina Pollard, prosecuting, said: "He actively promotes his beliefs that COVID is a hoax on his YouTube channel.”

She told the court Hayden Leigh was recording the event on his phone and ignored warnings from staff in relation to the strict no visiting policy.

Ms Pollard added: ”He is said to go to his friend, is challenged by staff to leave, and is not wearing PPE or a face covering.

"He demanded to speak to the head doctor, averting attention away from critically sick patients.

"He encouraged his friend to remove his oxygen mask. A doctor intervened and said if he didn't put the mask back on he would die.”

Hayden Leigh, who represented himself at the hearing, was granted unconditional bail and his trial will take place early next year.

The case emerged as all restrictions on social contact are set to be lifted in England on Monday.

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