A woman who targeted up to seven pharmacies in a “cunning” prescription fraud has been spared jail.
Rose Philomena Maughan, 39, was given probation and community service for a scam involving the use of a pad stolen from a GP’s surgery.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard more pre-written prescriptions were found inside her bra.
Maughan, of Pembroke Manor in Dunmurry, Co Antrim, admitted theft and 15 counts each of fraud by false representation and possessing articles in connection with fraud.
The crime spree was carried out on dates between August 8-27 last year.
A doctor at Lisburn Health Centre alerted police after receiving numerous reports from pharmacies in Belfast about prescriptions in his name being submitted.
The pad had been stolen from the surgery earlier that month.
Maughan was arrested 10 days later at Boots on Donegall Place in the city centre.
Staff at the chemist detained her until officers arrived when she presented a suspect prescription.
When arrested for the alleged offence, she replied: “Can you say that again?”
A prosecution lawyer said searches located 12 more prescriptions in her bra – most already pre-written.
Six other pharmacies then contacted police to report further frauds from the same doctor’s pad.
CCTV footage confirmed Maughan was involved in each incident.
The stolen prescription pad was then found in a handbag at her home.
Defence counsel John O’Connor said Maughan, a member of the travelling community, was addicted to diazepam and co-codamol at the time.
He set out how his client had been suffering from stress after her daughter left home to live with a partner without getting married.
“It led to her (Maughan) being ostracised within the travelling community, and she turned to diazepam to try and get over this,” Mr O’Connor said.
Referring to the fraud, he claimed it had been unsophisticated.
But District Judge Peter King responded that it required “a degree of cunning and pre-planning”.
Mr King decided against imposing a prison sentence based on her family situation.
Instead, he ordered Maughan to complete 12 months probation and 100 hours community service.
The judge stressed: “I’m doing that not because of anything you have done to impress me, but because of your personal circumstances. There are others who would suffer.”