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

Monday, April 27, 2015
Salah Mohammed was illegally touting for business near this carwash on Great Eastern Street when he picked up the victim [Image from Google StreetView]

A minicab driver has been jailed after picking up a woman in Shoreditch and taking to his friend’s house in Walthamstow, where she was raped.

Monday, April 27, 2015
Police want to know who these two men are [Photographs from Metropolitan Police]

Police are looking for two witnesses to a vicious assault that took place in Camden Lock and left the victim needing hospital treatment.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A 34-year-old has been charged with murder after a man was stabbed to death in Leyton over the weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2015
Police want to talk to this woman about the incident

Police have released an image of a woman they want to speak to after a Muslim woman wearing a head scarf was racially abused on a Piccadilly line train.

Friday, April 24, 2015
Peter Mussett sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl on the DLR

A 32-year-old man carried out an ‘incredibly frightening’ sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl travelling alone on the DLR.

Friday, April 24, 2015
Police have released a CCTV image of a cyclist believed to have knocked a woman to the ground.

CCTV images of a cyclist accused of forcefully knocking a woman over in Bermondsey before speeding off have been released by police.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Two phones. Same phone case. Genius.

To celebrate the launch of the first luxury dual phone case, PearPeel, we are giving away two of the black leather Rocha cases, perfect for holding two iPhone 6 handsets.

Read more
We have censored part of this image

Keith Fraser, the UKIP prospective parliamentary candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has apologised after retweeting an Islamophobic cartoon which looks similar to Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of the Prophet yesterday morning.