A nurse who dedicated her life to helping sick youngsters after defying overwhelming odds to beat back childhood cancer has admitted stealing medication from a children’s ward.
Laura Howe, 31, raided the drugs cabinet at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary which were intended to relieve the pain of ill children.
She was caught red-handed when hospital staff noticed the bottles of liquid codeine had been heavily diluted and set up a CCTV camera to snare the culprit.
After a year of sneaking out the drugs, she confessed to her bosses and was struck off.
But Howe, who has pleaded guilty to theft and an offence under the Medicines Act, has now been allowed to keep her job in the ward.
Laura Howe, 31, raided the drugs cabinet at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary which were intended to relieve the pain of ill children
A court heard Howe, of Normanby, near Middlesbrough, began to use the painkillers to deal with her own mental health problems and watered down the codeine to be administered to children.
Prosecuting at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, Rachel Glover said: ‘It came to the attention of the hospital that medication stock levels were reducing and that it did not correspond with what was being prescribed.
‘Last July another nurse noticed that a bottle of liquid codeine had a strange viscosity.
‘Tests were done on three bottles and it was found that the strength of the medicine was 71 per cent, 45 per cent and 21 per cent.
‘The reduction in the strength suggested they had been tampered with and diluted.’
Howe was caught red-handed when hospital staff noticed the bottles of liquid codeine had been heavily diluted and set up a CCTV camera to snare the culprit
When the bottles were replaced the same thing happened again so CCTV was installed in the stock room and Howe was caught in the act, the court heard.
She was questioned by RVI bosses and admitted to the offence.
Howe, who has no previous convictions, dived into a depression after years of intensive cancer treatment left her unable to have children.
She was first diagnosed with leukemia aged nine and underwent two years of intense treatment.
When the cancer returned a year later she was saved thanks to a bone marrow transplant from her infant brother.
In October 2000, aged 13, she had her third diagnosis and was given a 15 per cent chance of living.
Doctors said there was no treatment plan for the aggressive form of cancer and ‘threw everything at it’ over the course of three years, leaving her with physical side effects to this day.
But Howe, who has pleaded guilty to theft and an offence under the Medicines Act, has now been allowed to keep her job in the ward at the hospital (pictured)
Mitigating, Sophie Allinson highlighted Howe’s tragic background, calling it a ‘sad and unusual case’.
She said Howe had needed to ‘deal with stress and worry from a young age’ and that she had ‘took the medication to numb the pain’.
Back in 2017, Howe was made guest of honour at a Race For Life event in Teesside and her fundraising exploits have seen her feature in the press several times over the years.
She will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on August 28.