Lincoln hospital morphine theft nurse spared jail

Morphine vial Image copyright SPL

A nurse who stole morphine from a hospital for her own use has been spared jail.

Kimberley Cooper, 39, falsified entries relating to 20 patients on 40 different occasions at Lincoln County Hospital.

Jurors heard Cooper, whose husband died while she was awaiting trial, had used the drug to treat her own medical problems and became reliant upon it.

Suspending sentence, Judge Andrew Easteal said she had only escaped prison because of her family situation.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Cooper, who now faces being struck off, was left sole carer of her two children after her husband's death.

'Risk to patients'

Sentencing her to two years' imprisonment, suspended for two years, the judge told Cooper she had done "awful damage" to her profession.

"What you did was to put patients at risk."

"At the very least patients could have been prevented from having the pain-killing medication they needed," he added.

During the trial, Justin Wigoder, prosecuting, said Cooper had abused her position while working on a gynaecology ward between October 2013 and July 2014.

The jury heard Cooper began stealing morphine within a month of taking up her post, and in one instance had falsified three morphine entries for one patient who had already been discharged from the hospital.

"Fairly obviously you can't give drugs to someone who is no longer in hospital," Mr Wigoder said.

The thefts were discovered after stock records showed seven ampoules of the powerful pain killer had gone missing from the ward where Cooper worked in just one day.

Cooper, of Ruskington, Lincolnshire, had denied stealing morphine and falsifying records but was convicted of four forgery charges, theft of the morphine and possessing a Class A drug following a trial in February.

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