Drugs land vet in court

A Castlemaine vet alleged to have illegally used and possessed addictive drugs used in the treatment of animals suffering pain appeared before the Castlemaine Magistrates Court on Friday.
Dr Bruce Syme, a TV vet and well known local, is facing 263 charges including charges of illegally possessing and using fentanyl, illegally possessing and using morphine, illegally using methadone, using and possessing pethidine and illegally selling or supplying drugs including fentanyl.
Many of the charges against him relate to dates in 2016 and locations of Castlemaine and Yapeen.
The high profile Castlemaine vet is also charged with failing to keep required records.
Dr Syme appeared in court with his barrister Sean Cash for Friday’s brief mention hearing before magistrate Ross Maxted.
The charges against him are being prosecuted by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Drugs and Poisons Act.
During Friday’s brief mention hearing special counsel representing the Department, Kylie Walsh of Russell Kennedy Lawyers, requested an adjournment of the matter to April 12 for contest mention.
“How long will this case take if contested?” magistrate Maxted asked Ms Walsh.
“At least 15 days to be heard if it is a contested hearing,” Ms Walsh said.
Magistrate Maxted said it was “an unusual case” and raised concerns as to whether it might ultimately end up being found to be more suitable for hearing in a higher jurisdiction after potentially consuming a significant amount of time in the magistrates’ jurisdiction.
Mr Maxted adjourned the matter to April 12 for a contest mention, stating “a decision will be made at that hearing as to whether the summary jurisdiction is appropriate or not. It will need to be addressed”.
The matter is attracting media attention with representatives from the ABC and 9 News media present at Friday’s brief hearing, as well as local media.
The drug fentanyl, a powerful pain-killing opioid, made national headlines earlier this year when investigations found paramedic ambulance officers dealing with trauma had been abusing the potent substance.
In NSW, where the problem was described on ABC’s 7.30 Report as being “at its worst”, the ambulance commissioner ordered a state-wide investigation into drug protocols and random drug-safe audits in the ambulance sector.

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