A Nova Scotia judge has thrown out some significant pieces of evidence in the drug trafficking trial of a doctor accused of prescribing 50,000 opioid pills to a hospital patient.
Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones was in Bridgewater provincial court on Friday when Judge Timothy Landry ruled that three pieces of evidence the Crown wanted to use in her case would violate her charter right against self-incrimination.
Jones has pleaded not guilty to charges including possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking, drawing a document without authority and fraud.
"It is clear that the Crown could make use of this evidence to prove essential elements of the charge," Landry said in giving his ruling.
Letter and transcript excluded as evidence
When charges against Jones were laid in February 2016, Bridgewater police alleged she wrote the prescriptions for oxycodone and Oxyneo pills over a one-year period.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, which regulates doctors in the province, received a complaint about Jones in August 2015 and immediately suspended her licence to practise and launched an investigation. As part of that investigation, Jones explained her position in a 16-page letter to the college and also testified before the college's investigations committee.
The Crown wanted to use both the letter and a transcript of her testimony in Jones's criminal trial.
Stan MacDonald, Jones's lawyer, argued earlier this week that the province's Medical Act compelled Jones to provide the evidence to the college and to use it in her criminal trial would be unfair.
Landry agreed, saying Jones "really had no choice but to respond" to demands by the college for information, adding that the evidence was "incriminating."
Medications drop-off box also excluded
Landry also refused to allow the Crown to introduce as evidence a medications drop-off box that police seized from the Crossroads Family Practice in Tantallon, where Jones worked.
Earlier this week, at a hearing to determine the admissibility of the evidence, Landry heard that Jones talked about the drop-off box in her evidence to the college.
Her lawyer argued that without her testimony, the police would have had no idea as to the potential significance of that box or its contents.
In light of Landry's decision, the Crown asked for time to reorganize its case. The judge agreed.
Jones's trial is set to begin Tuesday.