Judge encourages LPN to help others following conditional discharge
Charmaine Hudson stole morphine from Carbonear hospital to satisfy her own addiction
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.
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.