A conniving couple stole prescription pads from a doctors’ surgery in South Tyneside while they were being treated.
Stephen Summerson snatched the prescriptions from a GP’s consulting room at Cleadon Park Primary Care Trust, in South Shields, while he and his partner in crime Dionne Dickinson were being seen after making back-to-back appointments.
There is a potential for drugs to be illegally obtained and released into the community.Glynn Lister, chair of the magistrates
Dickinson distracted the doctor by asking to be shown to the public toilets when Summerson swooped.
The pair, both of Bilton Hall Road, Jarrow, had left the building when staff discovered the items were missing 15 minutes later.
Inquiries found that only 29-year-old Summerson would have had access to the room during the time the prescriptions were taken and he was later arrested by police.
He told officers the theft was a ‘crime of opportunity’ and he had no idea what he was going to use the prescriptions for.
But magistrates in South Tyneside heard his girlfriend visited a series of pharmacies on the same day and the day after in a bid to trick her way to securing medication.
She used the stolen prescriptions to attempt to obtain Clonazepam – a drug used to treat seizures and panic disorder – and Zopiclone, which is used to treat insomnia.
Dickinson, 32, was handed a conditional discharge and ordered to pay compensation of £149 after admitting five counts of using a prescription which she knew to be false under the forgery and counterfeiting act at an earlier hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
Summerson was given a suspended sentence at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court after admitting theft.
Maimuna Bappa, prosecuting, said: “The theft took place at a GP’s surgery at Cleadon Park Primary Care Trust on August 18.
Summerson and his girlfriend Dionne Dickinson attended the surgery. A member of staff was asked to escort Dickinson to the toilet and turned away from her desk.
“It was later discovered that the prescription pads were missing and inquiries were carried out that led to the defendant being arrested.
“When interviewed by police he said it was a crime of opportunity and he had no idea what he was going to do with the items.”
Christopher Brown, defending Summerson, said; “It was an opportunity seized when he took the items.
“He accepts he has taken them. He has been out of trouble for a number of years but, with this offence, has taken a few steps back.
“If you feel it crosses the custody threshold, the greater benefit would be for him to make restitutions through unpaid work. A custodial sentence would not have any benificial effect.”
Glynn Lister, chairman of the magistrates, said: “There are serious aggravating features. This was a theft from a doctors’ surgery. The second aggravating feature is that these were prescription pads.
“Technically they are of no value, but when they are stolen it means there is a potential for drugs to be illegally obtained and released into the community – causing a lot of damaging consequences.
Summerson was told his offence was so serious only a prison sentence could be justified – but the eight-week term was suspended for 12 months.
He must also pay a £180 criminal courts charge, a victim surcharge of £80 and prosecution costs of £85.
No one from Cleadon Park Primary Care Trust was available for comment.