DAERA inspector admits possession of prescription vet medicines

DAERA inspector admits possession of prescription vet medicines

A senior inspector at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has admitted possessing prescription-only veterinary medicines.

Andrew McCutcheon from Bodoney Road, Trillick, Co Tyrone, admitted having three types of veterinary-only prescribed drugs (Marbocyl, Boflox and Hymatil Tilmicosin) on July 18, 2021, as well as failing to keep medicine records between January 2016 and December 2021.

In the second incident, the 49-year-old admitted having two types of similarly regulated medicines (Metacam and Alamycin) on August 10, 2022.

A court heard that when McCutcheon was stopped at Larne Harbour, he became abusive, telling an official: “Stop harassing me and my sheep.”

District Judge Bernie Kelly told Omagh Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Bernie Kelly felt pre-sentence reports may be required, saying: “This is a serious issue, particularly when it comes to animal welfare and the human food chain.

“We can’t have non-medically qualified people prescribing medicines for animals. Vets have to keep records, and all animals are recorded from birth to death. Every time a vet prescribes something, that’s also recorded. If that’s not done, we have no way of knowing what [is] happening.”

Regarding the first matter, a prosecuting lawyer explained that a DAERA investigation was conducted on McCutcheon’s farm around breaches of Veterinary Medicines Regulations.

Described as “a farmer and a DEARA Group One inspector”, McCutcheon confirmed having a bottle of one of the medicines, which, he claimed, he “got off a boy on the street”.

The search recovered 18 bottles of licensed medicine with either no corresponding records or only partial entries.

It was also established that 57 prescriptions were not recorded in medicine books over a six-year period.

During the search, McCutcheon told an officer he was a DAERA inspector, adding that he did not have a prescription for medicines in his car as “you know the way it works: paperwork will arrive a week later”.

Various medicines were also found in another vehicle, and at one stage an officer observed McCutcheon attempting to hide bottles in a shed.

He later met with DAERA for interview, accompanied by his solicitor, but offered no explanation or made any comment.

On the second occasion, DAERA officers at Larne Harbour stopped McCutcheon driving a vehicle and trailer which was booked to travel to Cairnryan.

He denied having any non-prescribed veterinary medicines and was told the vehicles would be searched.

The livestock was offloaded and bags of animal foodstuffs and a box were located in a cargo area of the vehicle.

The box contained two bottles of prescription medicine, one of which had been opened.

McCutcheon will be sentenced in October.