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Woman spared jail after supplying prescription drug to pal three weeks before she died

Kerry Woodburn

A TROUBLED woman who sold her prescription-only medication to a vulnerable pal who died three weeks later has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Linda Short collapsed at home in Whitehaven on May 6, 2018. She was taken to hospital but died the next day.

Ms Short’s collapse came 40 hours after a man gave her a box of Nurofen Plus containing codeine, and around three weeks after that man saw her buying prescription drug boxes from Kerry Marie Woodburn in Egremont.

Carlisle Crown Court heard the causes of Ms Short’s death were “multiple”. A pathologist concluded the levels of three drugs found in her bloodstream – gabapentin, codeine and fluoxetine – “may have been fatal independently and certainly have contributed to the initial collapse”, which then led to cardiac arrest.

Evidence showed vulnerable Ms Short had sought out drugs over and above her own prescription, which did not include gabapentin.

Found at her home days after her death were two cardboard gabapentin pill boxes – one empty – with prescription stickers bearing 35-year-old Woodburn’s name and matching the description of those Ms Short was seen buying.

Woodburn, of Whitehaven, initially denied illegally supplying the prescription-only medication she was given to treat back pain, but admitted the offence last month. The court was told she faced no charges linked to Ms Short’s death.

Kim Whittlestone, defending, said Woodburn had also been classed as vulnerable but had since “changed her life around” and was now a “very different lady”.

“She fully acknowledges and is remorseful for her involvement in this offence,” said Miss Whittlestone. “She is devastated by the death of the lady concerned, and that has played on her conscience over the last two years.

“It really has been a wake-up call for her.”

After considering background information, Recorder Eric Lamb suspended a 30-week jail term for two years. Woodburn must also complete a 25-day rehabilitation requirement.

Gabapentin was reclassified as a class C controlled drug from last April, due to its misuse being deemed an ongoing and increasing problem.

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