2017-07-19

Trial of suspended Hammonds Plains doctor nears end

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones exits a Bridgewater courtroom during the early stages of the trial.</p>

The prosecution of a suspended Hammonds Plains doctor facing fraud-related charges is nearing an end now that 10 days of proceedings over the course of three months have been heard by provincial court Judge Tim Landry.

The trial is expected to resume in the coming weeks.

Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones, 37, is challenging the remaining five charges against her.

She's accused of impersonating Merel Douglas Chase to obtain drugs, defrauding the Workers Compensation Board of more than $5,000, defrauding an Atlantic Superstore pharmacy of more than $5,000 worth of drugs, making a prescription document in Chase's name without authority and unlawfully possessing Oxycodone.

The alleged offences occurred between January 2014 and August 2015. Jones pleaded not guilty in June 2016.

Some public interest in the case waned after the Crown dropped trafficking and possession for the purposes of trafficking allegations just three days into the trial. The prosecution believed there was no real prospect of convicting Jones on those charges because some testimony didn't meet expectations (the Crown withdrew theft and breach of trust charges months prior).

Chase was the first witness called when the trial started April 11 following a day-long hearing where defence and Crown argued about evidence admissibility (some evidence was excluded from trial). Stan MacDonald is Jones' defence counsel.

Jones, who used to work at the Crossroads Family Practice in Upper Tantallon, was originally accused of prescribing in the vicinity of 50,000 painkilling pills to a Bridgewater-area patient who never received the medication.

The Bridgewater Police Service announced the charges in February 2016, and said the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons, which regulates the province's medical profession, helped in a seven-month-long investigation.

Jones, originally from Amherst, graduated from Dalhousie University medical school in 2007 after completing an undergraduate degree at Saint Francis Xavier University.

A bio previously posted on Crossroads' web site said. "Dr. Jones enjoys all aspects of Family Medicine but she does have a special interest in palliative care and minor procedures."

The Crown closed its case June 28 after calling 14 witnesses, many of them pharmacists based out of the Bridgewater and Tantallon areas along with physicians with ties to the Crossroads Family Practice. The defence called a pair of witnesses to testify.

The trial's seen 35 exhibits tendered, including - among other items - letters, pharmacy and patient records, prescription receipts and a pill bottle.

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