Heroin hell of NHS worker

Addict 'lost everything' due to drug

John Garvey


John Garvey




A SENIOR health service employee’s life completely unravelled after an abusive relationship triggered a descent into heroin hell, Newbury magistrates heard.

Such was the grip of the drug that 40-year-old Sarah Anne Apicella had soon lost everything – her job, her home and even her sanity, the court was told.

Helen Waite, prosecuting on Thursday, April 14, said police who stopped and searched her in Racecourse Road, Newbury, found 14 wraps of heroin plus another six wraps of cocaine.

Ms Apicella, who lives at Denman Drive, Newbury, admitted possessing the Class A controlled drugs on December 8 last year.

She also has previous convictions, the court heard, and was in breach of a conditional discharge imposed for an offence of theft.

But James Foster, defending, said: “She managed to reach the age of 38 without a single conviction. She studied politics and psychology at university and worked her way up the ranks of the NHS with some success.”

Her life began to spiral out of control, added Mr Foster, due to “quite horrific abuse from her ex-husband.”

Ms Apicella was eventually detained under the Mental Health Act at the Prospect Park psychiatrict hospital in Tilehurst; her home was repossessed and she lost her job, the court heard.

Her two children had to be looked after by family members, said Mr Foster, although Ms Apicella continued to have a relationship with them.

A probation officer told magistrates that, for many years, Ms Apicella had held down a responsible job within the NHS and added: “Her descent into addiction happened when she met her husband, who was a user. He became quite abusive, both psychologically and physically and that is when her drug use escalated.”

When the five-year marriage ended, it left Ms Apicella a legacy of mental health issues and an “entrenched” addiction, the court heard.

However, magistrates were told, she had sought help; she now has a precription for the heroin substitute, methadone, and was trying to rebuild her shattered life.

Magistrates made Ms Apicella subject to a 12 month community order coupled with a with Drug Rehablitation Requirement programme.

She was also ordered to complete up to 20 days’ rehabalitation activity and required to pay a £60 surcharge.

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