Judge rejects guilty plea in stolen hospital morphine incident

Notes from the April 4, 2012, sitting of Revelstoke court.

In an unusual circumstance, a judge rejected a guilty plea from a man accused of stealing a small amount of morphine from Queen Victoria Hospital.

Peter Coleman, who is charged with theft under $5,000, was in Revelstoke court last Wednesday, Apr. 4, with the intention of pleading guilty to the four-year-old charge.

Crown prosecutor Bill Hilderman said that on Dec. 2, 2007 at around 9 p.m., Coleman accompanied his girlfriend to the emergency room at Queen Victoria Hospital to be treated for a toothache.

While they were there, the nurse and doctor were tending to another patient in the trauma room. The nurse went to get some narcotic medication from a cabinet, but she did not lock the cabinet afterwards.

In the morning, when the nurse was ending her shift the next morning, she noticed the morphine was missing.

Video from that night showed that at some point Coleman got up and grabbed an item from near the cabinet and put it in his pocket, Hilderman told the court.

Coleman was later interviewed at his home but didn’t admit to the theft. The value of the morphine to the hospital was estimated at $20, though its street value was unknown.

When it was his turn to speak, Coleman said he “was [in] a really bad place” back then. He told the court he had since had a son, cleaned up his act and wanted to deal with the charge.

He said he didn’t recall stealing anything but he was “under the influence” at the time.

“I don’t want to go to jail, for my kid’s sake,” Coleman said.

Judge Mark Takahashi described the Crown’s case as “really thin,” adding Coleman might be confessing to something he didn’t do.

“I might saddle you with a criminal conviction when you shouldn’t be,” Takahashi said.

He then rejected the guilty plea and sent the case to the court manager to fix a trial date.

“I appreciate you coming here and owning up to this but from what you tell me, there’s not enough evidence.”

Man pleads guilty for hitting dog

A Revelstoke man plead guilty to animal abuse in Revelstoke Court last Wednesday.

Robert Clarence Tippe, 41, pleaded guilty to causing an animal to be in distress following a Jan. 7, 2011, incident.

On that day, a cable worker visited the Tippe residence, Crown prosecutor Bill Hilderman told the court. While there, he saw Tippe punch the dog, a golden retriever mix name Molly, in the head.

Tippe’s laywer, Chris Johnston, told the court that Molly had been abused as a puppy when Tippe acquired her. The dog was mal-adjusted and aggressive towards people.

“He over-reacted and hit the dog,” Johnston said. “Mr. Tippe is extremely distressed by his actions and the result of this and he truly regrets it.”

Judge Mark Takahashi handed Tippe a six month suspended sentence and a $500 fine.