Nurse from Sleaford area convicted of stealing morphine from hospital ward

Kim Cooper at Lincoln Crown Court. Photo: DANPICS; � Stephen Daniels EMN-180221-163613001
Kim Cooper at Lincoln Crown Court. Photo: DANPICS; � Stephen Daniels EMN-180221-163613001

A Sleaford area nurse was today (Wednesday) 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.

Lincoln Crown Court.

Lincoln Crown Court.

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

Cooper, of Tomlinson Way, Ruskington, had denied the charges and 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.”

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.

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 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 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 on 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.