Friday 14 December 2018

High Court to decide if alleged confession of beautician accused of unlawfully administering botox like treatments is admissible

Anne Rossi, of Howth Road, Raheny, Dublin pictured at the Four Courts Photo: Collins Courts
Anne Rossi, of Howth Road, Raheny, Dublin pictured at the Four Courts Photo: Collins Courts

Tom Tuite

A district court trial of a Dublin beautician accused of unlawfully administering botox like treatments is to be referred to the High Court to decide if an alleged confession is admissible evidence.

Following legal argument at her non-jury Dublin District Court trial, Judge John Brennan adjourned the case for four weeks.

Prosecutions and defence lawyers are to draft a document seeking clarification from the High Court in a procedure known as a consultive case stated.

Anne Rossi, who runs the Anne Rossi Clinic, at Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3, is being prosecuted by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) on 18 counts under the Irish Medicines Board Act. The HPRA is the regulatory body for prescription medicines in Ireland.

She has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The court heard that the term botox, was a brand and trademarked but not a product featured in the charges, however, it was used as a generic term for similar products which contain the same active ingredient Botulinum Toxin A.

HPRA inspector Niall McCarthy has told the trial he was granted a search warrant and went to Ms Rossi’s home on the Howth Road in Raheny, Dublin on the morning of February 19 last year. Invoices from a health products supplier for Dysport were found. She told him that there was Dysport at her business premises.

The Anne Rossi Clinic, at Vernon Avenue was also inspected. Dysport was found in a fridge and Ms Rossi, a former psychiatric nurse, was interviewed under caution and made admissions, the trial heard.

In cross-examination with defence counsel Breffni Gordon he agreed he did not invoke a power allowing a person on the premises to provide assistance or information. He said he did ask her questions and cautioned her and she was relaxed and very co-operative.

He agreed that no reference was made to her being allowed consult with a solicitor. He did not recall telling her before they left her house before going to the salon that “everything would be okay”.

He said it did not cross his mind that someone should advise her to speak to a solicitor.

The High Court will be asked if the alleged confession should be deemed admissible. The HPRA was not granted a certificate as set out in the Irish Medicines Board Act for the products seized but instead brought them to the manufacturer in the UK for confirmation.

The issue on whether a certificate was mandatory will also be referred to the High Court for clarification.

A Dysport box, with three vials, one empty, one in liquid form and another with powder, were seized to be sent for analysis. Ms Rossi was not left a sample that she could test independently because there was not enough, the trial heard.

On later dates in 2016 she was invited along with her solicitor to come and make a statement but that offer was not taken up.

Earlier, Mr McCarthy said that during the interview she admitted she had administered botox like treatments using the product Dysport and had been doing so for the previous year. In her statement she said she injected customers after showing them areas which needed botox treatment costing about €250 to €300, the trial heard.

He said Ms Rossi told him that “I knew I was on a sticky wicket for the last year or so”. He said she admitted she was aware that the product was subject to prescription control.

The HPRA inspector said that she said in her interview that she had been trying to get a doctor to administer the treatment at her clinic but could not get one.

The case relates to the a botox-like product called Dysport which contains the prescription only substance Botulinum Toxin A.

It was the prosecution case that it was imported into the State without permission and administered to customers by injection at Ms Rossi’s clinic. Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, said it must be done by a doctor or a pharmacist.

Three women had told the court earlier that they had received the botox treatments in 2014 and 2015 at her clinic from Ms Rossi and no doctor was present.

Dr Muckesh Lalloo a skin surgeon specialist, who works out of a HSE clinic at Blanchardstown Primary Care Centre in Dublin said he reported the Anne Rossi clinic to the HPRA after a patient came to him with “one brow lower than the other” which he said was consistent with “inexpert administration” of Botulinum Toxin A which has a freezing effect.

Dr Katherine Mulrooney told the court from 2008 to 2012 she had an arrangement with the Anne Rossi Clinic where she would see a number of patients on a given day and administer Botulinum Toxin A, in either Dysport or Botox. She said she brought the substances with her and they have to be administered by a medicinal practitioner such as a doctor. She also provided after-care if necessary at her main clinic.

Dr Mulrooney was shown six copies of orders allegedly emailed from the Anne Rossi Clinic in 2014 to a UK based supplier of health care cosmetic products with orders for boxes of Dysport.

She agreed they had her medical registration number and a signature in her name. However, she said that it was not her signature and she had not done any work for the Anne Rossi Clinic since 2012. She had not given any permission for the use of her medical registration number, she said.

It is alleged that from November 20, 2014 until January 27, 2015 while not being a pharmacist Ms Rossi supplied a medicinal product without a prescription. The product named Dysport contains the prescription only substance Botulinum Toxin A. It is also alleged that on the same dates she unlawfully placed the product on the market without authorisation.

It is also alleged that on or about November 25, 2014 and February 10, 2015, she imported the medicinal product into the State without the HPRA's authorisation.

Dysport is a Botox-like product used in various treatments but most popular for its anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing signs effects.

A district court conviction for the charges can result in a fine and, or a jail sentence of up to one year.

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