9 November 2023

Ex-vet Jan Spate illegally collected medications 'just in case' of emergency

| Albert McKnight
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older woman leaving court

Janet Adrienne Spate was supported by several people in court on Thursday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A well-known former vet has admitted illegally collecting medications, but she did tell police she had them “just in case” there was an emergency with someone’s animals.

Janet Adrienne Spate was convicted and fined $1000 in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (9 November) over possessing the five substances.

She practised as a vet for 45 years before retiring and running a business that stocked veterinary supplies, although she was no longer registered as a vet.

Police began investigating her, then searched her business, Jan Spate Animal Supplies, in Hall in January 2023 and found the substances in her old surgery.

“The prescription medications are there just in case someone brings an animal in and it’s drastic and they need it straight away,” she told the officers, according to court documents.

“I have used these [prescription medications]. I’ve treated animals as recently as Christmas time 2022.

“Most of the other vets are shut at Christmas time and people haven’t got $2000 to spend [to take them to the emergency vet].”

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Spate pleaded guilty to possessing a declared substance, while the remainder of her charges were dismissed after the prosecution offered no evidence for them.

She had been charged earlier this year and originally pleaded not guilty when the matter was first heard in court.

older woman and man outside court

Janet Adrienne Spate was convicted and fined $1000. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The 78-year-old’s lawyer, Tim Sharman of Tim Sharman Solicitors, said she is loved and respected by many in the community.

He said she often dealt with people asking for advice on their animals’ medications and has helped administer them.

Mr Sharman said the substances seized by police had been left with her but should have been destroyed.

She now accepted if people came to her for assistance and left medications, then she needed to tell them to take them away.

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Magistrate Glenn Theakston said Spate had a criminal history, having been convicted in 2018 for possessing a declared substance without certification and receiving a good behaviour order for pretending to be a registered vet surgeon.

References stated she had made a valuable contribution to her community for a long time.

“Even someone with a good reputation and a long history of doing appropriate things is not above the law,” the magistrate said.

Spate left the courtroom with several supporters.

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An elderly lady bending some veterinary rules to help the community is a simpler case to prosecute than other cases the ACT legal system has recently failed with. They need some victories to restore their legal reputation. Just going now for the easier targets Shane?

Really?…of all the criminal activity going on in the territory, THIS is the case that Police decided to prosecute?…what the hell is going on in this town?

Government only going hard on drugs for those that work apparently.

Harsh treatment and a $1000 fine for the former vet that obviously still cares and has contributed so much to the community over her long career.

But if you’re a drug addict criminal that creates daily chaos in the community and found with enough illegal hard drugs to supply an end of season rugby team trip, you’ll get a hug and a $100 fine at most.

Makes sense.

You must go on some pretty tame end of season rugby trips.

You’ve been called out on this ridiculous exagerration before, just stop.

The possession amount of drugs that have had their legal penalty reduced for is tiny. No one is dealing or carrying significant amounts of drugs without legal sanction if they get caught.

How would the police know or care how much drugs a person has now?

The ACT police chief has already said they’ll probably look the other way now, as there will be no incentive to getting involved.

The new drug decriminalisation process seems to be very complex just to issue a $100 fine, unless the drug user or dealer voluntarily opts for the fine on the spot.

It’s almost like it was designed to be very impractical for law enforcement, and pointless from a health perspective.

First the police need to test the drugs to find out what they are, then they have to very accurately measure the amount of drugs with a certified and properly calibrated measuring scale for possible evidence purposes, then they have to carefully add up how much drugs of each different type the user can have, and it’s actually permitted to have twice the quantity of different drugs than if they only had one type of drug, then they have to become a health and social worker and give the drug user or dealer a hug and offer them an appointment to receive a brochure about all the ways they could already help themselves if they cared enough, then the cops have to wait a couple of months or more for the very effective and efficient ACT health department to officially advise the police whether the drug user actually turned up to get their useless brochure, and then finally after all of that they can issue a $100 fine, which most likely won’t be paid anyway.

So no, I can’t see many cops being bored or insane enough to do any of that more than once, which means drug users, or dealers pretending to be users, will be very happy to do as they please knowing full well that the police will never be willing to intervene now.

Capital Retro4:46 pm 09 Nov 23

She should be nominated as Canberran of the year after devoting her life to caring for animals.

Is our Attorney General going to overturn this travesty?

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