Elizabeth Lee successfully appeals against conviction but is fined £300

by News team

Elizabeth Lee has successfully appealed against her conviction and sentence for a single dispensing error, which has been substituted for a different but equivalent offence and a £300 fine.

Mrs Lee was given a prison sentence last year after she mistakenly dispensed propranolol instead of prednisolone for 72-year-old Carmel Sheller, who died three days later in hospital. Mrs Lee admitted supplying a medicinal product with a misleading label on the package under the Medicines Act 1968, and was given a three-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, at London’s Old Bailey on 1 April 2009.

This week, Lord Justice Aikens, Mr Justice Royce and Judge David Radford, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, quashed her conviction and replaced her sentence with a £300 fine. The judges substituted a conviction for the different offence of supply, by any person, of a medicinal substance which is not of the nature disclosed on the packaging after hearing submissions from Mrs Lee’s barrister Orlando Pownall, QC.

Mr Pownall argued that the offence under the Medicines Act should not be allowed to stand despite her guilty plea, as a pre-requisite of a conviction would be that she had been “acting in the course of a business carried out by her” when she made the error.

“[This] did not apply as she was not acting in the course of a business carried out by her. The person carrying out the retail pharmacy business was Tesco Stores,” the barrister said.

Lord Justice Aikens, giving the court’s decision following a half-day hearing, said: “We have concluded that this appeal should be allowed, that we should exercise our jurisdiction and that the alternative charge should be substituted and that this acts as a guilty plea.

“We shall impose a financial penalty of £300, and we understand the correct period of imprisonment in default is 14 days,” the judge concluded, giving Mrs Lee 28 days to pay.

Lord Justice Aikens added that a full reasoned judgment, detailing why the court reached its decision, would be handed down at a later date.

Citation: The Salvadore URI: 11012329

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