Nurse imported drugs to cope with trauma of work in refugee camps

A CHILDREN’S nurse who became traumatised after his charity work with refugees in camps in Calais and Greece imported drugs to a St Peter Port address for personal use.

The Royal Court heard that Pip Orchard, 29, had spent his entire professional and voluntary life helping sick and frightened children and had done more for society in his life than most people achieve in a lifetime. But yesterday he was sentenced to three years in prison for drugs and motoring offences.

The court heard that Orchard had been volunteering at a United Nations refugee camp in Greece, where he was one of only two medical staff for 10,000 refugees. It was said that he regularly had to drag dead bodies out of the water.

The court was told that those experiences came with an emotional cost, he experienced mental health issues, his life crumbled, and he had turned to drugs to help him cope.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of drugs importation in court. Crown advocate Chris Dunford said that Orchard had arranged for three packages, one of cocaine and two of alprazolam tablets, to be sent to a multi-occupancy house in George Road. He did not live there but knew the front door was always open and that mail would be left on a shelf in the hall.

Pip Orchard. Image supplied by Guernsey Police. (29513528)

Customs intercepted the packages – 2.95g of cocaine, worth between £295 and £442, and two of 15 alprazolam tablets, commonly known as Xanax, valued at between £30 and £120.

The drug is a tranquiliser often used to treat anxiety.

When Orchard tried to claim them from the post office with a missed delivery form, he was arrested by customs officers.

Orchard also admitted drink-driving some months after his initial arrest.

A police officer saw a silver Ford Fiesta heading along South Esplanade towards Le Val des Terres on the wrong side of the road. He pursued the vehicle up the hill and the Fiesta was mainly on the wrong side of the road or straddling the centre line.

From the top of the hill he headed for the lanes of St Martin’s. At one point the vehicle mounted a grass bank and was travelling on two wheels, before he finally lost control and hit a grass verge. He ran away but was caught by police.

A breath test revealed 80mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath, more than double the legal drink drive limit.

In sentencing, Judge Catherine Fooks called it a tragic case.

‘You were knocked off the rails and could not find your way back.’

However she said that under the rules, in both the drugs and driving offences, the custody threshold had been met, and it was a miracle that no one had been hurt during the driving episode.

Orchard, who appeared from custody but had last year given his address as Eureka House, Les Hubits de Haut, St Martin’s, was sentenced to two-and-a-half-years on the drugs charges, and a consecutive six-month sentence for the driving offences. The sentences run from mid-December.

He was banned from driving for six years.

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