A hepatitis C outbreak investigation has led detectives to a nursing director of the clinic at the centre of their inquiry. The woman in question is Carol Richards, 68, from Croydon Hills who will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.
She is a senior nurse at one of the state’s busiest private abortion clinic. She is the first person to be charged in the investigation, which began in February. She is not a main suspect, but her testimony is vital in the case pursued by dozens of women were infected with hepatitis C. Richards was present at many of the procedures undergone by women who were infected with the virus.
Anaesthetist James Latham Peters, 61, was one of the main suspects in the investigation. He has not been charged but was released on summons. Dr Peters told the Health Department he did not know he had hepatitis C until the department began an investigation late last year. The investigations stared in October 2009 when the detectives raided several homes and the surgery where the women were infected, seizing computers and documents from the homes of Dr Peters, Richards and other clinic staff. Dr. Peters had a shady history of being convicted over fake pethidine prescriptions in 1996 due to his substance abuse problem. From March 2008 to end of 2009 he was allegedly clean and had worked at several clinics.
Forty-one patients who attended the abortion clinic are suspected of contracting the same strain of hepatitis C as Dr Peters has. The Department of Health has tested more than 3,000 patients treated between 2006 and 2009 at the Croydon Day Surgery - now called Marie Stopes Maroondah - and is still tracing a further 300 women.