Tuesday 6 December 2016

Manager tells inquiry that man accused of crystal meth possession 'was a good nurse'

Liz Farsaci

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

John Benedict Butalid de Lara
John Benedict Butalid de Lara
A nurse who was accused of possessing crystal meth ordered Sudafed using the names of a number of his colleagues, a disciplinary inquiry heard. Stock Picture

A nurse who was accused of possessing crystal meth ordered Sudafed using the names of a number of his colleagues, a disciplinary inquiry heard.

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John Benedict Butalid de Lara, of Ballyfermot, is before a fitness to practise inquiry at the Nursing Board, which previously heard that an ingredient in Sudafed, pseudoephedrine, can be used in the making of crystal meth.

Mr de Lara (45) worked as a staff nurse at the Royal Hospital Donnybrook from 2003 until 2014.

Yesterday clinical nurse manager Anne Dooley, who worked with Mr de Lara at the hospital for eight years, said she discussed the matter with him in June 2013 after a healthcare assistant raised concerns about him ordering Sudafed in other people's names.

The inquiry heard Mr de Lara admitted ordering the medication in the healthcare assistant's name, as he had wanted to send some Sudafed home to the Philippines where he is from originally.

A year later, in 2014, Ms Dooley was told of a newspaper article reporting that Mr de Lara had appeared in court over charges in relation to possession of crystal meth.

Those charges were dismissed in a district court after he paid €1,000 to a charity.

"I was quite shocked," said Ms Dooley, who never had an issue before with Mr de Lara's work performance.

"John was a good nurse."

Dr Katherine Patterson, the pharmacist for the Abbey Healthcare pharmacy in the Royal Hospital Donnybrook, told the inquiry yesterday she became concerned about a spike in the number of orders for Sudafed in May 2013, particularly seven orders on one day.

Her main concern, she said, was regarding "rebound congestion", a potential side-effect that can occur when Sudafed is used for more than one week.

However, in the back of her mind, there were also concerns regarding the other issues relating to Sudafed, namely its potential use in the production of crystal meth.

She said that while people may now be aware of the potential connection between Sudafed and crystal meth, thanks to certain television dramas, that connection was "only on the periphery of people's knowledge" in Ireland in 2013.

Mr de Lara's barrister John McGuigan argued that the hospital had known Sudafed had been ordered in at least two people's names - and that the hospital dealt with the issue.

He also maintained the Sudafed was ordered and sent back to the Philippines.

The inquiry continues on Friday.

Irish Independent

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