A WOMAN used fake names and dates of birth to get prescription drugs she became addicted to.

A court heard Margaret Townsend had been prescribed painkillers after a serious car accident.

But she became addicted to them and instead of taking eight a day, she was taking between 20 and 30.

Townsend, 52, used three different names to get prescriptions from doctors so she could get the painkillers, Chelmsford Crown Court was told.

Two different surgeries in Colchester and one in Braintree were used by Townsend to get prescriptions and ten pharmacies supplied her with the painkillers, the court heard.

The cost of the drugs was £59.55, but the court heard the cost to the various surgeries and pharmacies was £3,300 while a Health service probe into the matter cost £8,200.

Townsend, from Maple Way, Colchester, admitted ten charges of obtaining the prescriptions by fraud and asked for another 57 similar matters to be considered when she appeared in court for sentence.

She was given an 80-hour work order, 12 months supervision and told to pay £500 compensation to the Essex Primary Healthcare Trust. Matters came to light when prescriptions at an out-of-hours health centre were checked.

Katherine Hodson, mitigating, said Townsend had been prescribed painkillers after a serious road accident and she became addicted to them.

They were for her own use and it was not a sophisticated fraud as Townsend found it quite simple to register with doctors, Miss Hodson said. Townsend was ashamed of her behaviour and was now taking steps to deal with the problem, Miss Hodson told the court.