Prescriptions forged to feed addiction

An IT worker used his computer to forge medical prescriptions to feed his addiction to painkillers, a court has heard.

Paul Andre Henderson (47) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after admitting a representative charge of forgery.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh stressed it was a "serious charge", bearing a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars.

Henderson had been prescribed opioid painkillers for back issues he was suffering in 2017.

Counsel Sarah Saunderson-Warner said her client became worried about how reliant he was becoming on the medication.

He undertook a home-based detox the following year and was given different drugs to combat his back problems.

That, Ms Saunderson-Warner said, brought with it other complications.

So Henderson was back on the Tramadol.

Addiction gripped him for a second time.

There was "a level of desperation", his lawyer said.

Using his home computer, Henderson printed off fake prescriptions purporting to be from his own GP.

Between January and May he took them to various pharmacies around Dunedin.

Three times he was given the painkillers he craved.

But on the fourth occasion the forged prescription exceeded the maximum dose, piquing the interest of the pharmacist.

While they called the GP noted on the script, Henderson left the pharmacy.

Ms Saunderson-Warner said the defendant immediately tried to remedy the situation.

He called his GP to apologise, informed his employer about what he had been through and made full admissions to police.

Yesterday's guilty plea came on Henderson's first appearance before the court.

He had a "very supportive marriage", Ms Saunderson-Warner said, and had had no convictions for a significant period.

Judge Mackintosh accepted there was no hint of commerciality behind the offending but she had a warning for the defendant.

"If it happens again you could well be sentenced to a term of imprisonment."

Henderson was sentenced to 80 hours' community work.