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But it wasn’t a typical love story because he was a prisoner and she was his mental health nurse.
Now she has been suspended and referred by the Health and Disability Commissioner to a process that could result in her being struck off the register of nurses.
The prison nurse was caught having a forbidden sexual relationship with the prisoner she was counselling after the man was caught with contraband and prison staff began monitoring his phone calls in mid-2021.
When the inappropriate relationship was discovered staff reviewed video footage of a session that showed the pair went off camera to a room behind a glass door where the prisoner could be seen lying on top of the nurse for about 90 seconds.
They also had phone sex and on one occasion the man told the nurse to “take your knickers off”, and they reminisced about previous sexual encounters including in a supermarket car park where they were “apparently witnessed by a trolley pusher”.
Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Dr Vanessa Caldwell’s report, released today, said one of the phone conversations included the man saying: “Can’t wait to come home and have cooking”.
Ms X responded: “If the food ever gets made”. Mr B, as the prisoner was identified, discussed “interrupting” Ms X while cooking and said: “It’s all about the timing with the cooking and the lovemaking”.
Ms X responded: “Heaven”.
It was unclear in the report how the prisoner was able to be in a supermarket car park and an HDC spokeswoman confirmed the relationship did not start prior to the man being jailed.
The lovers had nicknames for each other including “my darling” and “my baby” and the phone calls, often extremely graphic and sexually explicit in nature, took place up to three times a day.
They were recorded by the Prison Telephone Monitoring System. In one call in August 2021 Mr B and Ms X declared their love for each other.
Mr B said: “Please have a safe drive back. I love you. I miss you. I got you and I love us madly and badly to f***** pieces”.
The phone call ended with Ms X saying: “Goodnight my darling, always in my heart, always in my mind. I’m always there for you beautiful, I love you.”
Once the nurse was late to work because the pair were having phone sex.
In the call that turned out to be their last on September 30, 2021, Mr B told the nurse to remove her knickers.
She responded: “I can’t, I have to go in, I’m sorry. I hate having to say no, you know that”, and then she giggled.
It was the same day the prisoner and registered nurse, identified as RN A, were videoed leaving the prison interview room to an area not completely visible to the room’s camera.
“HDC has viewed this footage, which shows, through a glass door panel, RN A lying on the ground, facing upward, and Mr B lying on top of her,” Caldwell said in her investigation report.
“They appear to be in this position for approximately one minute and 30 seconds before they both get up to their feet.”
The nurse was confronted by the prison director about the video footage of her engaging in physical contact with Mr B, with the director asking RN A if she “had been got”.
The phrase was a prison term that referred to when a person was manipulated by a prisoner into doing something unprofessional or illegal that they didn’t want to, that breached the Code of Conduct.
However, the nurse did not respond to the allegations except to say in her resignation to the Primary Health Organisation she worked for: “I sincerely apologise for the difficult situation I leave behind”.
She emailed a final message to the prisoner.
“Hi my darling, I don’t even know if you will get this. I don’t know what is going on for you there I just hope you are ok and that nothing bad has happened to you. I don’t know what you know about what happened for me, hopefully someone has talked to you”.
“Hell I don’t even know if I will ever hear from you again. Train wreck eh! … Be safe my darling and I hope I hear from you one day. If I don’t, well I still wouldn’t change a thing. xx”.
In total the nurse conducted 105 sessions with the prisoner over two years from October 2019.
Caldwell said the nurse’s relationship with Mr B breached fundamental ethical standards because of the power imbalance between clinician and patient.
“I do not consider that such a relationship being consensual alters this fact. This power imbalance will always mean there is the potential for abuse of the nurse’s professional position and harm to the health consumer.”
She referred RN A to the Director of Proceedings to decide whether disciplinary charges would be laid. If so, the case would be heard by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
Caldwell did not find the PHO in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.