Two men who used counterfeit prescriptions for diazepam and zopiclone at multiple Newry pharmacies have been sentenced to two months in prison suspended for 18 months.
Fintan O’Reilly, 29, of Kildare Park in Dublin, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of attempted fraud by false representation, two counts of possession of Class C and possession of articles in connection with fraud at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday via videolink from police custody.
Meanwhile, Mark Huerter, 40, of St Stephen’s Green, also Dublin, admitted to two charges of possession of Class C, possession of Class B, attempted fraud by false representation and possession of articles in connection with fraud.
Prosecution outlined that on July 5, police received a report of a suspected counterfeit prescription for diazepam being used at McKeever’s Chemist on Marcus Square in Newry.
Staff checked with the doctor’s surgery on the prescription who confirmed that no such medication had been issued to the named individual.
There were later similar reports in the McKeever’s branches on Mill Street and Monaghan Street in the city, as well as McNally’s chemist on Monaghan Street.
In these incidents the prescriptions were in relation to both diazepam and zopiclone.
Police subsequently located both defendants, who were linked to the offences, at Buttercrane Shopping Centre.
A bag found in Huerter’s possession was searched, with diazepam, zopiclone, herbal cannabis and several similar counterfeit prescriptions located.
Both men were arrested and during interview at Lurgan Police Station made full admissions to the offences before the court.
Defence barrister David McKeown stated that both defendants were waiving their rights to a presentence report, with neither having an address to be bailed to in this jurisdiction and little possibility of community disposal.
He said: “As they are from the South, they still had to pay for the tablets. The fraud is born out of the problem that they were not proper prescriptions.”
Mr McKeown described the counterfeits as being of a “low standard” created using normal printing paper.
He submitted: “They were chancing their arm and they have been caught. These are two men who have drug dependency issues and they have dealt with it in the wrong way.”
Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter commented that the difficulty was in the amount of drugs which had been sought and whether this amounted to personal use.
Mr McKeown stated: “I can see the point, but it would appear that they have come up to get as much as they could instead of coming multiple times.”
Deputy District Judge Prenter gave both defendants “credit for the way they dealt with it” as he sentenced them to two months in prison suspended for 18 months.