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West Belfast woman who fraudulently obtained prescription drugs spared jail

West Belfast woman who fraudulently obtained prescription drugs spared jail

Jamie Doherty appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he was given a 12-month sentence, which was suspended for three years.

The 39-year-old, of Milford Street, pleaded guilty to three offences and was sentenced by Judge Patricia Smyth.

She admitted fraud by abuse of office between 3 January 2012 and 30 April 2021, and possession of the Class B drug co-codamol and the Class C drug zopiclone with intent to supply both on dates between 1 January 2019 and 30 April 2021.

The court heard that Doherty started working at the Grosvenor Road doctor’s office in 2001 and was promoted to office manager in 2016.

Judge Smyth said that while employed, Doherty used her position to electronically access the medical records of a group of patients, all family friends.

She then created and printed prescriptions that were left for the office doctors to sign, after which she deleted the prescription records from the system and kept the medication.

After his arrest, Doherty said in an interview that he had a series of adverse experiences that resulted in him taking an additional prescription medication.

She also told police that although she personally consumed most of the medication, she also provided a small amount to close friends and relatives who were patients at the clinic in an attempt to ease their pain.

Judge Smyth said this posed a “risk of overdose” and was done “without the knowledge of the general practitioners responsible for the care of these people”.

The Belfast Recorder spoke of a breakdown in trust in the case and the distress Doherty’s actions must have caused his former colleagues.

The breach resulted in a loss of £13,565 to the Health Service and involved a total of 1,029 prescriptions being printed and deleted, with an excess of 46,000 tablets being fraudulently purchased.

Saying there was “no evidence” to suggest Doherty benefited financially in any way, Judge Smyth highlighted the defendant’s cooperation during cross-examination, her admissions of guilt and the remorse she expressed for her actions.

After imposing the suspended sentence, Judge Smyth told Doherty: “If you commit any crime in the next three years, you will go to prison for 12 months.”