A FORMER mental health nurse who posed as a pharmacy employee to feed her “horrendous” addiction to a controlled drug has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Sally Davies was on a community order for pretending to be hospital staff in a desperate attempt to steal Dihydrocodeine when she committed four further similar offences, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Davies, 44, of Old Manse Croft, Oxenhope, had battled the crippling addiction since 2011 after becoming hooked on the drug when she suffered terrible pain in her knees, her barrister, Jayne Beckett, said.

In October, 2019, Davies was sentenced to a two-year community order with a drug rehabilitation activity requirement and a rehabilitation activity requirement after she pleaded guilty to dressing as a nurse to try to steal the drug.

She admitted four offences of entering hospital wards at Bradford Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax with intent to steal and three charges of fraud by assuming the identity of two friends to obtain Dihydrocodeine.

The new charges involved her altering a prescription at Boots in Queensway, Keighley, on January 8 last year intending to obtain 60 Dihydrocodeine tablets instead of the six prescribed.

There were three further offences of dishonestly claiming to be a pharmacy employee in September at Tesco in Craven Street, Skipton; Carleton in Craven Pharmacy; and Lloyds Pharmacy in High Street, Knaresborough, intending to obtain the drug.

The court heard that Davies was a mental health nurse at Airedale Hospital in Steeton, but she was dismissed in 2013 for gross misconduct for misuse of controlled drugs and falsifying a prescription.

She had developed a crippling addiction to Dihydrocodeine after suffering a badly dislocated knee in 2011.

The drug was prescribed long-term and she became tolerant to it, and then dependant on it.

Mrs Beckett said Davies had been completely clear of the drug for the past 16 weeks after ten years of addiction.

She was now a recovering addict rather than an addict but had only been able to make the great strides by cutting out the drug altogether rather than reducing the dose.

“While ever there was one tablet in her life, she was addicted,” Mrs Beckett said.

Davies had been taking 40 tablets a day after obtaining them illegally on the internet.

She had been doing factory work and was in dreadful pain and not sleeping.

Recorder Keir Monteith QC sentenced Davies to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

She must also do 100 hours of unpaid work.

Recorder Monteith labelled the addiction “horrendous” and said Davies was full of remorse.

She had written a letter “from the heart” to the court saying her life had been saved by her total abstinence from Dihydrocodeine.

She now hoped to do voluntary work for the organisation that had helped her.