Grande Prairie nurses lived in 'terror:' supervisor

A supervisor cried as she recalled the 17 months a colleague was secretly drugging and stealing from staff, Wednesday.

Staff in a northern Alberta hospital lived in terror during the months a colleague was secretly drugging them, court was toldWednesday.

In giving her victim impact statement, nursing supervisor Ann Marie Muldoon cried and frequently addressed Sarah Christine Bowes by name as she recalled howshe feltirreversible anger after her staff and patients turned to her for help she couldn't give.

Bowes, 27, pleaded guilty to 12 charges on Monday, including administering a noxious substance to her co-workers, using credit cards obtained through crime, and public mischief for trying to implicate someone else.

Later, Muldoon echoed her testimony, tellingCBC News: "It was a terror environment.… You werealways suspicious, you were always looking over your shoulder, you were always checking your dinners."

There were fears their food was being drugged, she said, adding that when staffleft their suppers unattended to attended to patients, "I was discarding it in the garbage."

She said staff enjoyed Bowes's company and were surprised to hear she had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

"It wasn't like she set herself apart from anybody. She was normal. She worked very well," recalled Muldoon. "That there's a mental issue here really baffled us."

Mysterious illnesses

The courtheard othervictim impact statementsTuesday.

Nurse Renee Maher saidshe became unable to sleep and feared staying home alone after she mysteriously started getting sick.

"I was actually sleeping beside the very person who was doing this to me," Maher said, as she looked over at her former co-worker.

And Marie Johnson, a nursing supervisor, told the court: "I would stay awake at night hoping that nobody would be overdosed, nobody would be given a dose of medication they were allergic to and die, nobody would kill themselves or somebody else on their way home from work."

She added: "We are safe now that you are gone.… All we have left to do is ask why."

Prosecutor Morris Golden read through 16 pages of agreed-on facts, likening Bowes's case to a script from a B-movie.

The investigation began when a nurse on the fourth floor of Grande Prairie's Queen Elizabeth II Hospital reported that two fake credit card applications had been completed in her name on the internet.

Sedative found in food

The prosecutor said that food in the staff refrigerator had been tainted with sedatives. Testing identified Lorazepam, which includes a warning not to drive a motor vehicle.

Recreational therapist Trudy Raadik "recalled having trouble driving home after her shift and recalled driving in the opposite lane," in the statement of facts.

Bowes stole her co-workers' ID, used it to get credit cards in their names, then ran up $16,000 in debt. She also tried to blame other staff members, he said.

The problems began in early 2004 and abruptly stopped 17 months later, he said. Bowes was charged in March.

The defence cited a medical report diagnosing her as having bipolar disorder.

Both the Crown and defence would like to see Bowes face a two-year sentence.

Golden would like her to serve the time in jail, stressing the importance of mental clarity in a hospital environment and the "cloud of suspicion" that prevailed until charges were laid.

Defence lawyer D'Arcy DePoe said house arrest was appropriate, as Bowes poses no risk to the public and is living in her father's house in Little Current, Ont.

With files from the Canadian Press