Judge en­cour­ages LPN to help oth­ers fol­low­ing con­di­tional dis­charge

Char­maine Hud­son stole mor­phine from Car­bon­ear hospi­tal to sat­isfy her own ad­dic­tion

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Last year’s ar­rest of Char­maine Hud­son for steal­ing pre­scrip­tion drugs from the Car­bon­ear hospi­tal where she worked al­ready achieved the re­sult the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem was look­ing for, ac­cord­ing to her lawyer.

Af­ter hear­ing ar­gu­ments Thurs­day from de­fence at­tor­ney Jerome Kennedy and Crown pros­e­cu­tor Jessica Gal­lant, Judge Bruce Short de­cided he more- or- less agreed, giv­ing the 47- yearold Vic­to­ria res­i­dent a con­di­tional dis­charge and 18 months pro­ba­tion.

“I see no rea­son what­so­ever to sad­dle this wo­man with a (crim­i­nal) record,” Short said in Har­bour Grace Provin­cial Court.

Hud­son — who does not have a crim­i­nal record — was ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary of last year and charged with theft un­der $5,000 and fal­si­fi­ca­tion of doc­u­ments. She en­tered guilty pleas June 8, 2016, sev­eral months af­ter she en­tered ini­tial pleas of not guilty.

The clin­i­cal psych lead at Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hospi­tal con­tacted Trin­ity- Con­cep­tion RCMP fol­low­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the theft of nar­cotics. Thirty-one em­ploy­ees were in­ter­viewed about the theft, and hospi­tal records iden­ti­fied Hud­son, a li­censed prac­ti­cal nurse, as the com­mon link to 66 reg­istry al­ter­ations for var­i­ous doses of mor­phine and hy­dro­mor­phine. The ap­prox­i­mate value of the drugs was $50.33.

For Hud­son, the crime helped feed an ad­dic­tion she de­vel­oped dur­ing treat­ment for kid­ney stones. She was ini­tially pre­scribed De­merol be­fore mov­ing on to mor­phine.

A month af­ter her ar­rest, Hud­son went to the Hum­ber­wood Treat­ment Cen­tre in Cor­ner Brook. She’s also sought coun­sel­ing lo­cally through the U-Turn Drop-in Cen­tre in Car­bon­ear. Sev­eral let­ters of sup­port were filed with the court on Hud­son’s be­half.

Within six months of her ar­rest, Hud­son re­sumed work at Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hospi­tal. Ac­cord­ing to Gal­lant, East­ern Health has made changes to ad­dress loop­holes that en­abled her to com­mit those crimes.

“I took full re­spon­si­bil­ity for what I did,” Hud­son told the court­room Thurs­day. “The best thing that could ever hap­pen to me was to get caught.”

Kennedy told the court he con­sid­ered Hud­son’s case “a suc­cess story” in light of her ac­tions fol­low­ing the ar­rest.

“This lady has the sup­port of peo­ple in her com­mu­nity,” he said.

Short ac­knowl­edged the se­ri­ous­ness of her crimes, given Hud­son was in a po­si­tion of trust and made de­ci­sions that de­prived the hospi­tal of med­i­ca­tion (the thefts did not re­port­edly im­pact the health of any pa­tients).

How­ever, he felt the cause of her ad­dic­tion made the case unique. Tak­ing into ac­count her sub­se­quent ac­tions to im­prove her life, the com­mu­nity sup­port be­hind her and the fact she’s back work­ing at the hospi­tal, Short felt there was no need to is­sue a sen­tence re­sult­ing in a crim­i­nal record.

The judge also asked Hud­son to con­sider us­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence to help oth­ers, point­ing out those who’ve gone through hard times are of­ten the peo­ple best equipped to make a dif­fer­ence.

Hud­son was emo­tional fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion, hug­ging sup­port­ers who ac­com­pa­nied her to the court­house for the ma­jor­ity of her ap­pear­ances over the last year-and-a-half.

The pros­e­cu­tion was look­ing for a two-month con­di­tional sen­tence.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/TC ME­DIA

Char­maine Hud­son, a li­censed prac­ti­cal nurse who pleaded guilty in June to theft and fal­si­fi­ca­tion of doc­u­ments, re­ceived a con­di­tional dis­charge Thurs­day at Har­bour Grace Provin­cial Court.

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