A CANCER-survivor nurse who stole medicine from a children’s hospital to “numb her own pain” has been allowed to KEEP her job.
Laura Howe, 31, raided liquid codeine from a cabinet at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and diluted the bottles intended for sick kids with water.
She was caught when her colleagues noticed the strong painkillers had been tampered with and set up a CCTV camera to snare the thief.
The nurse – who is a child cancer survivor – admitted to her bosses that she had been stealing the drugs for a year, reports Chronicle Live.
She pleaded guilty to theft and an offence under the Medicines Act but was allowed to return to work after the court heard her “sad and unusual” story.
Howe, of Normanby, near Middlesbrough, began using the painkillers to deal with her own mental health problems including depression.
She had underwent intensive cancer treatment as a child which left her unable to have kids.
The nurse was first diagnosed with leukaemia aged nine and underwent two years of treatment including a bone marrow transplant.
In 2000, aged 13, she was diagnosed for a third time and was given a 15 per cent chance of surviving.
Howe, has been left with physical side effects from her cancer battle, says she became a nurse to help sick children.
At North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, Howe’s lawyer Sophie Allinson highlighted the nurse’s tragic background saying she used the drugs to “deal with stress and worry from a young age”.
Prosecutor Rachel Glover told the court how hospital staff noticed the drugs had been tampered with.
She 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 will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on August 28.