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Ex-nurse guilty of drug offences remains at large two years later

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A former nurse is still at large almost two years after she was convicted of drugs offences as police have failed to arrest her, it can be revealed.

Deirdre McCallan was found guilty in her absence of a series of drugs offences after she failed to turn up for her hearing at Belfast Magistrates Court in April 2018.

The judge hearing the case issued a bench warrant. However, it emerged in December that McCallan had not been returned to court to be sentenced.

The failure by the police to bring McCallan in front of the court came to light after she was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for her crimes.

Publishing its findings into the case, the NMC said it had received an email from McCallan on December 11 last year in which she admitted "intentionally evading police by not responding to the bench warrant".

Despite the fact the regulatory body was able to communicate with McCallan, it has emerged that she has still not been arrested and returned to be sentenced.

Doug Beattie, a member of the Stormont Justice Committee, said the PSNI has serious questions to answer over the case.

"I think it's pretty straightforward. This isn't a case of looking to make sure they have enough evidence for a prosecution or that it passes the threshold to get it in front of the court," said the UUP MLA.

"This woman has been found guilty, everything has been done, except the police have failed to arrest her."

McCallan had been working as a band five staff nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital since May 2015 when concerns were raised during her employment.

She was convicted in April 2018 of two counts of offering to supply a class C controlled drug, one count of supplying a class C controlled drug and two counts of theft by an employee.

As she did not turn up for the hearing, a bench warrant was issued. When this happens, a letter is sent to the address of the defendant informing them that they must present themselves to court. Their details are also passed to the police, who are tasked with arresting the person.

McCallan was subsequently struck off the nursing register by the NMC after admitting her crimes - taking stolen diazepam while on duty between June and July 2016, failing to appear for trial at Belfast Magistrates Court and intentionally evading police by not responding to the bench warrant issued on April 10, 2018.

The fitness to practise hearing was told McCallan originally denied the charge of evading police but in email correspondence on December 10 and 11 of this year, she said she wanted to change her plea to guilty.

Imposing a striking off order on McCallan, the NMC took into account the fact that she has a previous conviction for theft, that she abused her position of trust and attempted to involve her colleagues in her conduct, and that her misconduct took place over a prolonged period of time.

It added: "The panel also noted that Ms McCallan has still not responded to a bench warrant issued for her arrest, and the public would be extremely concerned to know that a registrant who was avoiding such a warrant was entitled to practise in any capacity. The panel concluded that Ms McCallan's actions are fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the register."

The police did not respond to a request for a comment.

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