Nurse stole patients’ credit cards as ‘debts piled up’

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A Blenheim nurse who stole a credit card from two different patients has been censured and suspended from practice for nine months, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has ruled.

By Maia Hart, Local Democracy Journalist

The nurse, Marvel Jr Benjamin Clavecilla, 48, told the court on Monday that he stole the two cards “simply out of desperation” and the feeling of guilt for doing so was “awful”.

“I have learned my lesson. I will never again harm or inflict harm of any kind on others,” he said.

Clavecilla was a nurse at Wairau Hospital when he took the credit card on March 29, 2020 from a deceased 90-year-old patient.

He spent $773.38 in eight days. He used the card at Countdown, 12 times, a Z gas station, Pak ‘n Save, Unichem Pharmacy and on credit Vodafone.

He also stole a credit card from an 88-year-old woman, who spent three nights in hospital in May 2020. The day after her admission, Clavecilla was recorded refueling her car and to buy a pack of cigarettes with the card. at another service station, using their loyalty card to get a discount.

He used the card at three fast food restaurants, two department stores, two supermarkets, a gas station, a cafe and a dairy for six days, spending $431.04.

He was sentenced to six months in the community and 150 hours of community service for 19 counts of theft related to the first victim’s credit card expenses and 13 related to the second patient.

Clavecilla, who moved to New Zealand from the Philippines, told the lawyer he took the cards because he was ashamed he could not support his family.

Tribunal member Chris Taua asked Clavecilla why he took the second card.

“The guilt of the first time wasn’t enough? Taua asked.

He told the hearing that his financial situation had not changed and that it was out of desperation that he took the second card.

“It was the feeling of my responsibility as a father to provide for my family,” he said.

Tribunal member Stacey Wilson asked if Clavecilla could live his “best life” if he wasn’t a registered nurse.

Clavecilla said he currently works at a bakery, living a “simple life”.

“We’re happy, but it’s not complete,” he said.

“I grew up in a family of nurses, I’ve been a nurse almost all my life. It’s going to be hard for me, it’s like something in me as a person is missing if I don’t practice.

Clavecilla’s lawyer, Findlay Biggs, submitted to the court that Clavecilla was not seeking the support he needed at the time of the offense, and it could clearly be described as a “financial crisis”.

“He wasn’t looking for support, and he should have. He was isolated,” Biggs said.

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal set conditions that Clavecilla must disclose the decision of the hearing to any employer for a period of 12 months and must undertake “monthly supervision” for a period of 18 months, with a supervisor approved by the Board of Nurses if he decided to practice again.

A request to permanently remove the name was denied by the court.

Clavecilla was still at risk of being sent off as a result of the offence.

Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air.

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