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Pharmacy dispenser loses jail term appeal over morphine supply death

By Megan Archer | Crime | Published:

A pharmacy dispenser who supplied morphine tablets to a neighbour – who later died – deserved her ‘severe’ jail term, top judges have ruled.

The case was heard at London's Court of Appeal last week

Tina Marie Astbury, aged 45, of Bideford Way, Cannock, was locked up for five years at Stafford Crown Court on February 8.

She was convicted of supplying a Class A drug to another, Mrs Justice May told London’s Appeal Court at the end of last week.

Astbury was a pharmacy dispenser at Boots but not a qualified pharmacist, said the judge.

Her husband was lawfully prescribed Zomorph, a form of morphine sulphate.

In August 2016, Astbury was witnessed handing Jamie Farr some tablets over a garden fence.

It later transpired these were the drugs prescribed to her husband.

After that ‘sample’ had been handed over, a ‘further exchange’ took place.

Mr Farr later took some of the 200 Zomorph tablets that had been supplied by Astbury, at a price of £1 each.

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The following morning he was found dead in his bed, said the judge.

He was 21 at the time, effectively bed-bound, fragile and a ‘chronic drug user’.

Astbury said Mr Farr must have let himself into the house and taken the tablets.

She also claimed other people were involved in the supply and had engaged in a cover-up.

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But the jury convicted her, having ‘plainly disbelieved these accounts’.

Astbury’s role was akin to that of a ‘street dealer’, said the judge who jailed her.

Toxicology reports showed Mr Farr had taken a ‘complex cocktail of drugs’.

And the judge who jailed Astbury said he was not sentencing her as if it was a case of manslaughter.

But her crime was made worse by the large number of tablets supplied and the ‘high concentration’ of morphine in them.

Astbury, who had no previous convictions and cared for her husband, had positive character references.

Her lawyers argued her jail term was far too harsh and should be reduced.

But Mrs Justice May said the Crown Court judge heard all the evidence and was ‘best placed’ to assess Astbury’s crime.

“The sentence which he arrived at was severe, but it was not wrong in principle, nor manifestly excessive. The appeal is dismissed,” she ruled.

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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