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, July 31, 2015
Thornton Way in Hampstead Garden Suburb

Two women were attacked and made hostages in their own home in a terrifying raid on their Hampstead Garden Suburb house.

Friday, July 31, 2015
One of the men can be seen with a shotgun

This is the terrifying moment a masked gang armed with a shotgun and crowbars broke into a house in Gidea Park.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Police want to speak this woman after a child was kicked repeatedly (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

Police are hunting for a woman who was seen hurting a young boy in a shop in Wood Green on Saturday February 28.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Antisemitic crimes have more than doubled in London over the past year (Picture: Getty)

The number of antisemitic hate crimes - including assault, harassment and arson - has more than doubled in London in the space of a year.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Sebastian Szerer, a senior employee at a hotel, raped a man who came for a job interview (Picture: Met Police)

The former head housekeeper has been jailed for ‘luring’ a man, 25, to a fake interview before raping him in the locked suite of a luxury Westminster hotel.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Walkers have been urged to report any suspicious activity in the area (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

People are being warned to be vigilant on Hackney Marshes after three women were stalked and hurt in what police believe were sexually-motivated attacks.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Read more
Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Read more
Terrific tea, creamy cakes and splendid sandwiches at Mews of Mayfair.

Celebrate a truly quintessentially British tradition with the chance of winning a luxurious Afternoon Tea for two people at Mews of Mayfair, complete with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Read more