Pharmacist Bernard Leddy specialises in drug information, and he knows so much about the subject that his colleagues call him the encyclopaedia. His knowledge and attention to detail are what makes him so good at his second role – as an expert witness in court cases.
As a child Bernard had no inkling of what he would end up doing with his life. "For years I wanted to be a pilot. But when I was in 6th year at school I read a 19th century textbook on pharmacy and chemistry, which fascinated me." Bernard applied for pharmacy courses at university and got into the London School of Pharmacy, now University College London, before going on to do an MSc and PhD in heterocyclic chemistry at the University of East Anglia.
He then went on to work as a pharmacist, and it was while doing this that a chance encounter led him into the world of criminal law.
"One day, a local solicitor contacted me to write a report in for a client that he was defending on a driving under the influence (of a drug) charge", says Bernard. The case involved an older lady who had driven to the local shops for bread after taking her sleeping tablet, 'before it kicked in'. The tablet contained the drug Zolpidem – a fast acting hypnotic, and she was arrested by police who spotted her driving erratically. "She was completely oblivious to the flashing lights and sirens", says Bernard, "and only stopped when she harmlessly struck a wall."