Police have arrested a maskless ‘Covid denier’ after he tried to take a dying elderly patient home from an intensive care ward against doctors’ orders.
Officers from Surrey Constabulary detained Toby Hayden-Leigh, 45, from Maidstone, Kent, on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.
It followed an incident last Thursday where he was joined by a group who refused to wear face coverings in East Surrey Hospital and became abusive towards staff.
Police released an appeal saying they were hunting Hayden-Leigh after videos emerged on social media on Saturday.
A second man was also arrested this afternoon on suspicion of assisting an offender and is also in custody.
Toby Hayden-Leigh, 45, from Maidstone, Kent, was joined by a group of people who refused to wear masks inside East Surrey Hospital and then became abusive towards staff on January 21
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey said: ‘The appeal generated hundreds of calls from members of the public with information as to his whereabouts and we would like to thank both them and the media for their help in tracking him down.
‘I would also like to thank our colleagues at Kent Police, who assisted with the arrests. The man will be interviewed and further updates will be issued in due course.’
Footage showed Haydeigh-Leigh and the group close to a patient in the intensive care unit last week.
They filmed medics tirelessly trying to save the pensioner’s life and insisted he should be discharged, despite a doctor warning he could ‘drop dead at any minute’.
Insisting he was the patient’s ‘McKenzie friend’ – an untrained legal helper – he asks for the patient to be taken off oxygen, despite his seriously low levels, and ignored repeated requests to leave during the fiery 20-minute row.
When Hayden-Leigh and the others were told they were putting themselves and others in grave danger by being there they replied: ‘It’s our own risk.’
Joined by others close to the patient, the intruder filmed a team of medics – who were working tirelessly to save the pensioner’s life – and insisted he be discharged, despite a doctor warning he could ‘drop dead at any minute’
The patient, who was seen coughing and struggling for breath, removed his oxygen tube and demanded to go home, but was told by staff he would not survive.
The ringleader, who insisted he was exempt from wearing a mask, asked staff whether Covid was even ‘proven to exist’, before being booted out by security.
The video also shows the patient and his loved ones arguing with a young male doctor as he desperately battles to save the man from the virus.
The doctor warns the patient if he removes his oxygen tube he will die, to which he replies: ‘Yeah, so you keep saying. Let’s go.’
Hayden-Leigh steps in and accuses the hospital of ‘lying’ about the patient’s condition and keeping his family in the dark.
The doctor responds: ‘My main concern is his safety and at the moment you are making him unsafe. He’s taken his oxygen off, he’s going to die if we don’t put it back on.’ The patient defiantly replies: ‘No, I’m not.’
The doctor refuses to discuss the matter further until the oxygen pipe is put back in – and the patient reluctantly agrees.
Appealing to his family, the doctor says: ‘You’re not respecting our wishes by coming inside. You’re going to spread Covid around.’
Hayden-Leigh insists ‘we’re fine’, and the patient – clearly struggling for air – asks: ‘What about my wishes?’
The doctor then points at the patient’s oxygen levels on a monitor and says: ‘Seventy-three per cent. He’s at risk of dropping dead at any minute.’
The seriously ill man says ‘I want to go home’, but is told: ‘You will die.’ Again, he dismisses the medical advice.
The man’s loved ones continue to challenge the doctor but he stands firm and insists the patient will not survive without a constant supply of oxygen.
He says: ‘He has coronavirus pneumonia affecting both of his lungs. He’s on steroids called dexamethasone. He’s on antibiotics to treat concurrent bacterial infections.’
Security had to intervene, right, after Mr Leigh, who was filming the incident, refused to listen to doctors, left
Hayden-Leigh says his treatment should be replaced with Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc but is flatly told: ‘None of those are proven treatments for coronavirus.’
Security guards then arrive and order him to leave, but he refuses to comply, saying the patient is being held ‘hostage’.
He says: ‘I’m an officer of the court. I’m putting you on notice, if you put one hand on me and touch me I’ll be doing you for assault.’
The doctor tells the patient he needs to be put on a ventilator, but he shakes his head and says: ‘No way. Hurry up and get me out of here.’
Hayden-Leigh then rants about Covid conspiracy theories, at which point the doctor ends the conversation and tells security to throw him out.
As he is hauled away, he shouts ‘get off me, ya p****’ and threatens to have the men prosecuted for assault.
A police spokesman said: ‘On investigation, these posts related to an earlier incident at the hospital, on Thursday 21 January, when a number of people, some of whom were not wearing masks, gained access to the critical care ward to visit a family member and were abusive towards hospital staff. They also refused to leave.
‘Officers attended and issued fines to two individuals involved for breaching Covid restrictions and issued a breach of the peace warning, which resulted in the group leaving the location.’