Jailed for giving friend pain relief tablets which killed him

News from the courts. ANL-161126-100856001

News from the courts. ANL-161126-100856001

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A restaurant worker, who kept strong pain relief tablets prescribed to his dying uncle, gave some to a work colleague suffering from shoulder pain.

Tragically the drugs led to the friend, Jeremy O’Donovan, dying at his home in Luton and Ashley Levene being sent to prison.

A Judge said: “This case is as tragic as it is unusual.”

Judge Richard Foster told Levene: “You are not a street dealer or anything like that, but this was a reckless, stupid thing to do. So how do I sentence you?

“I take the view that a short but immediate custodial sentence is necessary to get across the clear message that to share strong drugs in this way is reprehensible.”

Levene, 29, from Horsecroft Road, Edgware, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to supplying Class A drugs to 28 year old ‘Jez’. He was jailed for eight months on Friday.

Prosecutor Martin Mulgrew, said in March last year Levene’s uncle died from cancer.

“While his possessions were being cleared from his house the defendant took some boxes of Oxycodone, a very powerful drug for palliative pain relief prescribed for the late stages of cancer.

“About a week later he gave some to Jeremy O’Donovan at The Harvester in Flamstead where they both worked, after a short discussion about what they were for.

“On March 29, the victim took some of these tablets, and was found in bed by his mother having succumbed to an overdose of the drugs,” said the prosecutor.

The court was told that the tablets were classified as Class A drugs.

The victim’s father, Michael, read a statement to the court in which he said: “Words cannot describe the heartache we have suffered. Many people have said time is a great healer, but there is not much evidence of this at the moment. Never a day goes by without tears being shed.”

Mark Gatley, defending, said other staff at the restaurant knew about the exchange of tablets and said Mr. O’Donovan had been suffering some shoulder pain.

The barrister said that the tablets were in a box and included an instruction sheet with warnings about their use.

“This is a tragic case, a very unusual case, which is unlikely to come before the courts again. Death was unforeseen. There was no frivolous or recreational element to the supply of the drugs.

“It was a supply to a friend for the relief of pain. He may have taken too many because he liked the effect.”

He said Levene, who is engaged to be married, was genuinely remorseful and he urged the court to suspend the sentence.

Judge Foster told Levene: “You knew they were strong pain killers, but rather than hand them in to a pharmacist or destroy them, you decided to take them and pass them on, with tragic consequences.”