MD shouldn't take away client's drugs in jail, says lawyer

The lawyer for a woman convicted of a knifepoint robbery fears his client won't get the drugs her doctor has prescribed for her mental illness when she goes to jail.

Defence fears psychiatrist will take away woman's prescription at HMP

Lawyer Peter Ralph speaks with reporters outside provincial court on Thursday. (CBC)

The lawyer for a woman convicted of robbing another woman at knifepoint in St. John's fears his client won't get the drugs her doctor has prescribed for her mental illness when she goes to jail.

Camille Strickland-Murphy. 19, was in provincial court for a sentencing hearing Thursday.

She was prescribed drugs to treat mental illness before she was convicted of robbery.

Now lawyer Peter Ralph fears Strickland-Murphy's prescription will be changed by Dr. David Craig in jail.

"I've been advised that Dr. Craig intends on changing my client's prescription while she is in custody which is disturbing. Certainly there is a number of psychiatrists who thought that a prescription for anxiety is important for her and she has been advised by Dr. Craig that he is going to stop that medication when she is in custody," he said.

Ralph said another psychiatrist also believes it would be wrong to take Strickland-Murphy off her medications.

"I talked to Dr. Nizar Ladha about it and he is concerned as well that if she doesn't get her medication, then she isn't going to do as well in custody and it's likely going to impact on her rehabilitation," he said.

Other inmates have complained in the past about Craig's prescribing practices.

His work was discussed in January when prison guard Edward Taylor was convicted of trying to smuggle drugs into prison.

In court, Judge Wayne Dymond ordered that Taylor's prescriptions to treat mental illness should be continued in prison.

Dr. Craig was also the subject of a review by citizens' representative Barry Fleming in 2011 after he received complaints about Craig's prescribing habits. Fleming concluded that Craig should be replaced immediately.

In March 2011, the provincial justice minister ordered a peer review of Craig's work at the penitentiary but it hasn't reported yet.