February 21, 2018 4.33 pm This story is over 45 months old

Lincoln nurse guilty of stealing morphine and forgery

Morphine is so powerful that it is put in the same category as herion and cocaine.

A nurse has been convicted of stealing morphine from the ward where she was working at Lincoln County Hospital.

Kimberley Cooper, 39, had denied altering patient records and forging the signatures of other nurses to cover up the thefts.

But a jury at Lincoln Crown Court on Wednesday, February 21 found Cooper guilty of four forgery charges, theft of the morphine and possessing a Class A drug.

The thefts were discovered after stock records showed seven ampoules of the powerful pain killer had gone missing from the ward where Cooper worked in just one day.

Cooper started stealing morphine within a month of taking up a post on Branston Ward at Lincoln County Hospital, the jury heard.

Justin Wigoder, prosecuting, said Cooper began working on the ward in October 2013 and was arrested in July 2014.

“What can be proved to have happened by a handwriting expert and other evidence, is that Miss Cooper has been falsifying, forging and altering patient records and the hospital’s drugs books,” Mr Wigoder told the jury.

She denied the charges but was found guilty. Photo: Steve Daniels

The jury heard morphine is so powerful that it is classified under the Dangerous Drugs Act as a Class A drug which puts it on the same level as heroin, crack and cocaine.

It was previously alleged that Cooper had become reliant on the drug following her own medical problems. 

“It follows that hospitals which use morphine as pain relief have to keep it very securely and have a number of checks and balances in place to ensure that is carefully controlled,” Mr Wigoder added.

Mr Wigoder said all transactions relating to morphine sulphate required two signatures from the nurse who drew up the medication and another witness, and were recorded in the ward’s Controlled Drugs Record Book.

“If you are going to steal morphine you need to make quite a lot of false entries,” Mr Wigoder told the jury.

The morphine stock records were checked after seven ampoules were found to be missing at the end of the day on July 14, 2014.

Mr Wigoder told the jury: “From November 11, 2013 until the July 14, 2014 with the gap I have told you about (when Mrs Cooper was off sick) the records in relation to 20 different patients have been forged and over 40 different occasions.

“In total 430 milligrams of morphine were stolen.”

Cooper was initially arrested on July 15, 2014.

Mr Wigoder said: “She denied any part in this and said on some of the days she had not been at work.”

He told the jury although this may have been correct on some occasions, she would have been at work the following day.

“We can show she had the opportunity to alter the records and steal the morphine,” Mr Wigoder said.

Cooper, of Tomlinson Way Ruskington, denied one charge of theft, four charges of forgery and one charge of possessing a Class A drug.

She will be sentenced on a date to be fixed after Recorder Andrew Easteal adjourned the case for a probation report.

The Recorder granted Cooper bail but told her: “I give no indication of what the sentence will be.”

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.