Shoplifting blamed on chemo drugs

23:17, Jan 09 2014

A lawyer has suggested a Massey University student stole hundreds of dollars worth of items because his mind may have been altered by chemotherapy drugs.

Robert August, 21 and enrolled to study psychology at Massey in Palmerston North this year, was in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to four counts of shoplifting.

A police summary of facts states August was on Lambton Quay in Wellington on July 9, and walked into four stores.

He took items from each one, ranging from jewellery worth $46.90 to a black hoodie worth $259.99. He also took a handbag from a separate store.

When stopped by security staff, August said he had just moved back from Australia and had "wanted stuff".

Duty lawyer Simon Parsons said August was being treated for leukaemia at the time, and the drugs may have affected his reasoning.


According to information on the Cancer Society's website, side effects from chemotherapy can include nausea, vomiting, infections and fevers.

There is no mention of chemotherapy altering thought processes.

Judge Gregory Ross said August had a history of offending, including convictions for shoplifting and assault.

While accepting the treatment may have affected August's mind, Judge Ross said it was still wrong.

Previous pre-sentence reports said August had alcohol issues which needed to be worked through.

"While studying others, maybe you will be able to study some issues you yourself have," Judge Ross said.

He sentenced August to six months' supervision.

Manawatu Standard