JAILED: Royal Blackburn Hospital nurse stole drugs in ‘abuse of power’

A NURSE who stole prescription drugs from Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital and dished them out to her friends has been jailed.

Judge Robert Altham told mother-of-one Amie Louise Heller her crime was an “abuse of power” which had “struck at the heart of the health care profession”.

Judge Altham said: “You, Heller, need to understand medical professionals stealing drugs from hospitals cannot be tolerated.

“It strikes at the very heart of the business of health care. Something you were there to promote. You were responsible for diverting drugs that needed to be dished out in a regulated way for people’s health and safety and you were putting them into an unregulated distribution.

“You have abused a position of trust to steal drugs from people who were genuinely ill.”

Preston Crown Court heard Heller, 30, was using cocaine during the periods she was stealing the drugs and had a long-term friendship with her dealer and co-defendant Jake Alexander Lloyd-Haydock.

Prosecuting, Peter Barr said Lloyd-Haydock would give Heller cocaine to sell to her friends.

Heller would take payment for the drugs and give the money to Lloyd-Haydock. For that Heller would receive a reduced rate on her cocaine as “payment in kind”, the court heard.

The court heard both defendants’ offending only came to light in July 2015 when the hospital received an anonymous phone call from someone making accusations that drugs were being stolen from the premises and pointed the finger at Heller, of Sarmatian Fold, Ribchester.

Mr Barr said stock checks were carried out and discrepancies were found between what had been requested from the pharmacy and what was on the wards.

The court was told internal enquiries were carried out and the police were contacted. Although Heller was initially allowed to continue working, on July 31 – 11 days after the anonymous phone call – she was arrested at work.

Mr Barr said she made a statement about having zopiclone – sleeping tablets – at her home and when told by officers that they would be searching the property, she informed them they would find cocaine in a jewellery box.

When officers searched her Ribchester home they found nine snap bags of cocaine, with a street value of £360.

A box of prescription medication was discovered but the original labels had been removed so there was nothing to link it to the hospital, the prosecution said.

The court was told officers also found an iphone which contained text messages related to the supply of cocaine and the supply of the prescription medicines.

Within the phone’s contacts was Lloyd-Haydock, who was referred to as “Jakey work”. The court was told there were numerous text messages to him requesting cocaine.

Mr Barr also said there were messages from people with various ailments asking Heller if she could get them medication.

When police searched the home of Lloyd-Haydock in Brewery Street, Longridge, they found three ecstasy tablets and £1,000 in cash.

Both defendants were interviewed by police in March 2016 and made no admission of their guilt.

When they appeared at the crown court last year both pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

Heller also pleaded guilty to one count of theft of medication from Royal Blackburn Hospital and four counts of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs, including zopiclone, tramadol, dihydrocodeine and codeine.

Defending Heller, Philip Barnes said his client had never made any money from the theft of the prescription drugs and had only passed them on to friends. He said she had acted as a “go-between” in relation to cocaine and had no knowledge of the wider operation.

Mr Barnes said: “In the period of 2014 and 2015 she was dealing with the breakdown of her parent’s relationship. Her own relationship came to an end. She had a medical worry of her own. She had had a patient death and was required to give evidence at a coroner’s inquiry for the first time, which placed her under a great deal of strain.

“Because of all this she was medicated for depression and stress. Around about the same time she started to use cocaine socially.

“It also became apparent to her that people who use one type of drug are often open to taking others and she allowed herself to be used in the supply of those.”

Mr Barnes said his client knew her conviction would prevent her from ever working in the nursing profession again and she had since re-trained as a beauty therapist.

Defending Lloyd-Haydock, Kimberley Obrusik said her client had shown genuine remorse and had only sold cocaine to fund his own drug habit.

Ms Obrusik said: “This is something that all his friends and family are shocked by. He is very ashamed of himself.”

Heller was jailed for three years and eight months, whilst Lloyd-Haydock received two years and six months.

They will both return to the same court on May 31 for a Proceeds of Crime hearing.

Judge Altham said: “Both of you need to understand that dealing in Class A drugs is a catastrophic trade for those who are customers. It also causes crime, child neglect and misery throughout society.”

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