Saturday 16 February 2019

Medical secretary who stole prescription pads was addicted to sleeping tablets after 'gruesome' killing of her mother, court hears

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Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A MEDICAL secretary caught burgling a hospital to steal prescription pads had become addicted to sleeping tablets while trying to deal with the “gruesome” killing of her mother.

Kym Dunleavy developed a 20-tablet a day dependency after her brother James (41) was jailed for beheading and dismembering their mother Philomena (66) in 2013.

A court heard she had been unable to cope following the “gruelling ordeal” of the trial and the tablets “changed her personality.”

Judge David McHugh jailed Dunleavy for six months after she pleaded guilty to a litany of theft charges related to her drug dependency.

Dunleavy (44), of St Joseph’s Place, Dublin 7 admitted multiple counts of burglary, handling stolen property and possession of false prescriptions.

Garda Sergeant Maria Callaghan told Blanchardstown District Court Dunleavy entered a secretary’s office that had been left unoccupied briefly in the Mater Private Hospital on December 19, 2016.

She was discovered walking out with a prescription pad and doctor’s stamp in her hand. The property was recovered and she was arrested and charged.

On May 25, 2016, she went into the nurses’ station at the outpatients department in the Mater and tried to put a prescription pad into her bag. She left without taking it but was identified on CCTV.

Dunleavy was also caught trying to get sleeping tablets from several pharmacies using forged prescriptions.

In one incident at Hickey’s Pharmacy, Main Street, Finglas on January 4, 2018, she tried to use a prescription from Beaumont Hospital that she had filled out herself. When gardai were called she handed over two more and it was discovered from records that she had used a prescription to obtain sleeping tablets on a previous date.

On November 11, 2016 she tried to use a prescription that had been stolen from Beaumont Hospital to get tablets at Daly’s Pharmacy on New Cabra Road.

On May 14, 2016, she tried to do the same thing at Conway’s Pharmacy, Whitehall, with a prescription taken from the Mater.

She also admitted shoplifting groceries from two supermarkets.

Dunleavy had 38 previous convictions for offences including burglary, theft and possession of forged prescriptions.

It was an “unusual case” in that the accused had a good upbringing and work history, having been employed as a medical secretary at a clinic, her barrister said.

Tragically, her mother was killed in 2013 and was a missing person for a period of time before being found by a walker in Edinburgh.

The person who was the cause of her death was the accused’s brother. The 2014 trial was a “gruelling ordeal” for Dunleavy and her family and her brother was sentenced.

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James Dunleavy has been jailed for nine years.

“The means of her death was somewhat gruesome” and there were body “parts to be identified,” the court heard.

Shortly after the death of her mother, her sister passed away, her barrister continued.

“Ms Dunleavy was not in a position to deal with what was happening to her family at the time and never quite came to terms with it,” she said.

The accused had stopped working and was prescribed sleeping tablets by her GP to help her “deal with daily life,” but the doctor realised there was a dependency and told her “you can’t keep doing this.”

“She felt she couldn’t deal with daily life without this medication,” her barrister said.

Dunleavy realised the medication had changed her personality and “made her do things she wouldn’t ordinarily have done.”

The tablets were a “psychological comfort blanket” and her focus had been to get more of them to get her through the day. She was now in counselling and had reduced her dependency to one tablet per day.

Judge McHugh noted the courts had been “down this road before” with the accused, who had been given a suspended sentence previously.

While she had “protracted and serious difficulties,” he was satisfied she knew the nature and quality of her actions and knew them to be wrong.

He suspended the sentence for two years.

Dubliner James Dunleavy killed his mother Philomena following a row at his flat in Edinburgh in 2013.

He was convicted of culpable homicide due to diminished responsibility in the UK's High Court in January 2017, and was jailed for nine years.

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