Chemo drugs blamed for thefts

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 14:46 10/01/2014

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A lawyer suggested a Massey University student stole items valued at hundreds of dollars because his mental state was altered by chemotherapy drugs.

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

A police summary of facts says August walked into four stores in Lambton Quay in Wellington on July 9.

He took items from each store, ranging from jewellery valued at $46.90 to a black hoodie valued at $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 might have affected his reasoning.

According to information on the Cancer Society's website, side effects from chemotherapy can include nausea, vomiting, infections and fevers. No mention of chemotherapy altering thought processes is made.

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

While accepting the treatment might have affected August's mental state, 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.

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