IN the grips of a severe fentanyl addiction, Ashleigh Jayne Daley put a large knife to the throat of a staff member at a pharmacy at Mayfield and demanded they hand over their most powerful opioid patches.
Then, after she was granted conditional bail by police, Daley did the same thing less than three weeks later, pressing a blade against the neck of a female staff member at a pharmacy at New Lambton and yelling: "I want fentanyl patches".
Daley, 35, of Stockton, has no other criminal record but had become addicted to the potent prescription opioid pain killers.
And such was the depths of her addiction that when offered money during one robbery she asked only for the patches.
The case highlights the addictive nature of fentanyl patches, which are about 100 times stronger than morphine and are often used as a recreational drug and mixed with heroin or cocaine.
Daley was represented by solicitor Chris O'Brien when she appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from jail and pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery.
She plans to apply for bail when the matter is listed in Newcastle District Court next week to get a sentence date.
It was about 3pm on April 16 when Daley walked into the Blooms Pharmacy at Mayfield armed with a large knife. She grabbed a staff member and the pair struggled as Daley tried to put the knife up to her throat and face.
"I'll give you whatever you want, just don't hurt her," a pharmacist told Daley. "Do you want money or drugs?" Daley replied: "Drugs."
And when asked if she wanted Valium, Daley replied "Durogesic", a brand name for the fentanyl patches.
The pharmacist went to the safe and handed over four boxes of the strongest fentanyl patches and Daley fled the store.
The victim suffered a cut to her hand but, after she had calmed down, was able to identify Daley as a customer who had been prescribed Durogesic in the past.
A check of computer records revealed Daley's name and police obtained CCTV from a nearby pub that showed her before and after the robbery.
Daley was arrested the next day and charged with armed robbery but police granted her conditional bail.
Then on May 4, Daley walked into Strachans Day Night Pharmacy at New Lambton and pressed a knife blade against a staff member's neck. "I want fentanyl patches, I want fentanyl patches," Daley yelled.
She asked for the strongest patches, but staff gave her one box of the weakest version of the drug and she left.
Aware of the similarities to the previous robbery, police arrested Daley again and this time she was refused bail.
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