Nurofen tampering man Christopher McGuire jailed

16:21 28 May 2012

A codeine addict who contaminated packets of Nurofen Plus in London, in a ruse to fund his habit was jailed today for 18 months.

Christopher McGuire cost the manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser £2.4 million and saved himself just £7 by placing strips of an anti-psychotic drug in empty packets of the painkiller and swapping them for new packets at pharmacies.

He was today imprisoned by a judge at Southwark Crown Court for the “carefully thought out and skilfully executed” scheme, which created a “good deal of public fear and anxiety”.

Passing sentence, judge Alistair McCreath told McGuire: “The costs included recalling the product, destroying suspect stock, investigating the problem which you caused, returning new products to the market and handling the reputational damage caused by you.

“In short, the harm you actually caused or might have caused by your acts was very high.”

The court has heard how McGuire’s scheme involved asking for Nurofen Plus at a pharmacy counter and then attempting to pay for it with a card he knew would be declined. In doing this, he created sufficient distraction to discreetly swap the contaminated packet for the fresh one and walk away.

McGuire, who went to university at the age of 16, took 32 tablets of the drug each day to feed his secret addiction. But after losing his job he struggled to pay for it.

Instead, the 31-year-old replaced empty packets with the Seroquel he was being prescribed for schizophrenia, and the contaminated packs ended up in the hands of unsuspecting members of the public.

Two men, Peter Letham and Paul Connor, took the anti-psychotic drugs in error, believing them to be Nurofen Plus, and were left feeling unwell.

Mr Letham’s wife Jacqueline bought what she thought was a 32-pack of Nurofen Plus from a branch of Boots pharmacy in The Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley.

The next day Mr Letham, who was employed on a building site, took the packet to work. There he took three tablets and gave two to his colleague Mr Connor, who was suffering neck pain.

Both men soon began to feel unwell, experiencing tiredness and dizziness. They later discovered the drug inside the packet was in fact Seroquel instead of Nurofen Plus.

Two other consumers realised the Nurofen Plus they had bought also contained Seroquel instead, but did not swallow any.

The first incident occurred when a woman bought a pack from a Boots pharmacy in London’s Victoria station and the second when a man bought a pack in a branch of Boots in Beckenham High Street in south-east London.

In a fourth incident, an assistant at a Beckenham pharmacy found Seroquel tablets inside a Nurofen Plus packet in the store.

McGuire, of Edzell Drive in Glasgow, was tracked down to his landlady’s home in Swanley, Kent, after the origins of the Seroquel were traced. He admitted his actions and was later charged with causing a public nuisance.

Lawyer James Hasslacher, defending, said the figure of £2.4 million was an “eye-popping” one for an offence that centred on McGuire saving himself £7.

An extensive investigation was launched when the health scare broke out as “it could not have been perceived that what was occurring was a young man in a very pathetic state of health trying to save himself £7”, Mr Hasslacher said.

“He’s the most remorseful that one could be, to know the effect of his crime.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Crime news

Friday, February 27, 2015
CCTV footage shows when the driver loses control of the black Honda car in Hampton Road

This jaw-dropping footage shows the moment a speeding driver smashes his Honda into five parked cars in a quiet residential street before fleeing.

Friday, February 27, 2015
A teenager was stabbed near the Emirates minutes before Arsenal's Champions League game

Knife attack - just prior to Champions League game - fifth in borough this month

Friday, February 27, 2015
Anytime Fitness in Pentonville Road [Photo from Google Streetview]

The sick sex pest also used the James Bond-Style gadget to spy on women in the showers in a King’s Cross gym.

Friday, February 27, 2015
Murdered: James Hunter

Five teenage boys have been convicted over the killing of James Hunter, 18, who was stabbed to death as he tried to protect his friend from a revenge attack in Sydenham last year.

Friday, February 27, 2015
The quiet lane [Photograph by David Peat]

Emergency services have rushed to a street in Walthamstow after a man was stabbed this morning.

Friday, February 27, 2015
Gokhan Durmus was stabbed in the neck in Chatham Place in Hackney in Saturday, February 7 (Picture: Met Police)

Mathais Auguste, 21, has been charged with murder after 22-year-old Gokhan Durmus was fatally stabbed in the neck in Hackney.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

Among the charitable causes the prince hopes to champion are wildlife conservation and justice for injured service personnel.

Read more

Although Farage may not have mentioned the fascist pre-conference entertainment, his speech showed he’s very aware of his party’s image.

Read more

Leonard Nimoy is currently dominating six of the top trend slots on Twitter. His fans, friends and co-stars should be proud.

Read more

Promoted content

A look at one of our previous Design Fairs

Chelsea Old Town Hall will be the venue for the renowned Desire Fair from 6-8 March 2015. This stunning mixed media jewellery and silversmithing event where visitors can purchase direct from contemporary designer makers selected from the best in the UK is an event not to be missed.

Take our quiz and find out!

A survey conducted last year revealed that Britain is the fourth sexiest country in the world, with the UK sex toy industry worth an estimated £250 million a year.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Among the charitable causes the prince hopes to champion are wildlife conservation and justice for injured service personnel.

Although Farage may not have mentioned the fascist pre-conference entertainment, his speech showed he’s very aware of his party’s image.

Leonard Nimoy is currently dominating six of the top trend slots on Twitter. His fans, friends and co-stars should be proud.

Quirky London