Robberies highlight fentanyl crisis, says paper

A woman with no prior criminal history robbed a pharmacy with a knife in a desperate bid to obtain fentanyl

The Newcastle Herald has reported on the case of Ashleigh Jayne Daley, who had no previous background of substance abuse when she was prescribed fentanyl in a hospital setting to manage pain due to acute pancreatitis and a back injury.

Court reporter Sam Rigney writes that Ms Daley went to her medical centre and was refused fentanyl, after which she went to the Blooms Pharmacy in Mayfield in April this year, holding a large knife.

Ms Daley accosted a staff member and held the knife to her throat and face.

A pharmacist offered her money or drugs if she did not harm the staff member, and when Valium was offered, Ms Daley said she wanted Durogesic.

The pharmacist gave her four boxes of the strongest forumulation and Ms Daley left.

After police attended, the staff member who had been attacked identified Ms Daley as a previous customer for whom fentanyl had been dispensed, and Ms Daley was arrested. She was given conditional bail.

Only a couple of weeks later, she went to a New Lambton pharmacy and again threatened a staff member with a knife, yelling, “I want fentanyl patches,” and asking for the strongest formulation.

She was given one box of a less strong formulation and left, after which she was arrested again.

She then spent five months in custody, during which she was hospitalised four times and in one case, was considered to be “clinically dead” and was revived four times.

Ms Daley, through her solicitor, gave a statement to the Herald in which she said she would never take opioids again unless they had been prescribed in a hospital setting, and would never again take fentanyl.

“I am so ashamed that this has happened,” she wrote.

Mr Rigney writes that “The case highlights the extremely addictive nature of the powerful prescription painkiller fentanyl, which is about 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, against the backdrop of an overall surge in prescription drug addiction and death during Australia’s ballooning opioid crisis”.

Ms Daley was handed a sentence of a maximum of three years, with a non-parole period of 20 weeks, with consideration given to her physical and mental health as well as the fact that she was highly dependent on fentanyl at the time of the robberies.

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