Barrie ER doctor a 'slave' to Fentanyl addiction
Dr. Darryl Gebien outside of Barrie court Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (Tracy McLaughlin/Toronto Sun)
Dressed in a suit and pink tie as he stood at the front of the court on one of his fast fleeting days of freedom before prison, former Doctor Darryl Gebien apologized for his drug crimes in a lengthy speech to the judge Friday.
“I am ashamed,” he said. “I am embarrassed.”
The 46-year-old former Barrie emergency room doctor is looking at eight years in the slammer if things go as the Federal Crown would like.
Gebien, an admitted drug addict who has lost his licence to practice, was initially charged with 145 counts but has pleaded guilty to only one count of trafficking and one count of forging 445 prescriptions for Fentanyl patches.
He told the judge of his fall from grace starting with pain killers for a back injury in 2013 which spiralled out of control. He became hooked on Fentanyl — a highly addictive opioid that results in several overdose deaths every year in Canada.
“There is nothing worse than being a slave to a drug,” he said.
He would extract the Fentanyl from the patches and smoke or chew them — even while working in the emergency room, court heard.
On several occasions he forged prescriptions using fellow doctors’ prescription pads, other times he recruited three hospital employees to pick up bogus prescriptions he wrote for them. They were later fired.
But the “last straw” in his crimes against society was when Gebien recruited other drug addicts to pick up prescriptions and split the bounty with them, said Federal Crown Karen Jokinen.
In one instance he randomly recruited an addicted taxi driver, in another he recruited a recovering addict who was on the methadone program to help her through withdrawal.
“And what happened? She fell off the wagon and succumbed to her addiction,” said Jokinen. “That was a blatant disregard for the life and safety of others. He was playing Russian roulette with their lives.”
Jokinen has been a feisty hard-hitter in several Fentanyl cases in Simcoe County. She has succeeded in getting stiff prison sentences even in low-level cases where addicts got caught selling just a few Fentanyl patches to feed their own habits.
“This is a drug that kills,” Jokinen said. “The community would be shocked if this behaviour was excused.”
But defence lawyer Mitch Eisen says “eight years is way too harsh,” and is asking for a suspended sentence with community service. He notes since being charged in 2014 Gebien has completed four months at the Vitanova rehab in Vaughan then went on to do public speeches on radio, television and at Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
“There are better ways to deal with crimes of addiction than with prison,” Eisen insisted. “Doctor Gebien was in the throes of addiction — it was not the same doctor who sits before you now.”
Eisen compared the doctor’s crimes to drunk drivers.
“They have the potential to kill but they only end up with a fine,” he said.
Justice Joe Wilson will pass sentence at a later date.