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Pharmacist given 18-month suspended sentence for supplying prescription drugs to pals

Judge's gavel (stock)

Judge's gavel (stock)

Sonya McLean

A superintendent pharmacist who was caught supplying prescription drugs to friends has been given an 18-month suspended sentence.

John O'Meara (42) who owns three pharmacies in Co Wicklow was described by the investigating garda as a “Jekyll and Hyde type of character”.

Sergeant Seamus Ryan told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that O'Meara led a “party lifestyle” and analysis of two of his mobile phones showed various communications through WhatsApp groups, which suggested he was supplying prescription drugs to those he socialised with.

He said things “snowballed” for O'Meara, in that he was able to hold down a steady job but he fell in with the wrong crowd and into this type of lifestyle.

“He seemed to be living like Jekyll and Hyde,” Sgt Ryan said before he agreed with Mr McCormack that because of O'Meara's profession he was able to get easy access to these prescription drugs for his own use and then also “siphoned” them off to those in his social group.

O'Meara of Woodthorpe, Kilmacud Upper, Stillorgan, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of prescription tablets for sale or supply at his home on August 24, 2018. Gardaí found 1,700 Xanax tablets and 330 Ritalin tablets, worth an estimated €4,000.

There was an order from the High Court in September 2018, suspending O'Meara from acting as a pharmacist following an investigation by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland into the three chemists he owned.

Sgt Ryan confirmed that O'Meara has complied with this order to date, has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since his arrest.

Remy Farrell SC, defending, said his client remains the owner of the pharmacies but under the High Court order is no longer allowed to be involved in the running of the businesses. He has appointed a replacement superintendent pharmacist to oversee the three shops and is involved in an ongoing disciplinary procedure with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

Judge Pauline Codd said as a pharmacist, both the public and the regulatory body would have trusted O'Meara and he breached that trust by supplying drugs.

The judge acknowledged that O'Meara has not challenged the disciplinary procedure by the pharmaceutical society and took into account the fact that he co-operated significantly with the garda investigation.

Judge Codd said she was also taking into account O'Meara's “particular vulnerabilities” from a young age and evidence that he was “using the supply of drugs as a means of sustaining friendships with a cohort of people” he was socialising with.

She said she had taken into account a number of medical reports, including one from a consultant psychiatrist before she added that she didn't think it would be in the public interest to imprison O'Meara.

She suspended an 18-month sentence on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for those 18 months.

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