Pharmacist stole as his life 'crumbled'

Last updated 12:58 01/07/2014

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A Motueka pharmacist's career has ended with fines totalling $1600 after the theft of drugs worth $127 from his employer.

They included prescription drugs for anxiety, hay fever, erectile dysfunction and the morning-after pill.

Judge Paul Whitehead said in sentencing Leslie Allan Campbell in Nelson District Court yesterday, that it was a "sad day" for a man of his age, and years of professional service to the community, was standing before a court on such charges.

Campbell, 65, admitted four charges of theft in a special relationship. He had been working as a pharmacist since 1971, but the offending had brought his career, which included some high points, to an "abrupt end", the court heard.

Campbell was employed by Motueka Pharmacies, which operates two business in the town, Amcal Pharmacy and Greenwood Pharmacy.

He was employed in October last year, and started work in November.

Prosecutor, Sergeant Graeme Eden, said Campbell, a qualified pharmacist, had worked dispensing and checking medications, counselling patients and providing advice.

A month after he started work another pharmacist expressed concern about his work practices to the business owners. Two covert cameras were installed in the premises by a private investigator.

On December 29 the cameras caught Campbell making manual adjustments to the stock records on the computer for four products which he had removed from the shelves. The products included anti-anxiety medications.

Campbell was seen on the camera to place the medication in a paper bag, which he took before closing the pharmacy.

Records showed that no prescriptions had been presented that day for those drugs, worth a total $38, Eden said.

On January 26 Campbell was caught by the camera removing stock bottles of Diazepam from the shelf of the pharmacy and pouring pills into a prescription bottle without counting them. He then placed the container in his pocket. Eden said he was also seen to remove the prescription drug Postinor, known as the morning-after pill, worth under $11, from a shelf.

On February 2 Campbell was caught on camera placing two bottles of Buscopan on the counter of the pharmacy. Two minutes later he was seen with two boxes of the same medication and Normison medication in his hand. He made a manual stock adjustment on the computer records, added a box of Ativan, then left the store.

On February 16 Campbell was caught removing prescription hay fever medication from a drawer and placing it on the counter. He also took a box of Avigra for erectile dysfunction, which he placed in a paper bag before he left the store.

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Eden said the records that day showed no prescriptions had been presented or sold for the drugs, worth $60.

Defence lawyer John Sandston said Campbell suffered anxiety and depression because of events in his personal life, for which he had sought help.

"The irony is that most of the medicines he stole were because of that issue and he was concerned he wouldn't get help," Sandston said.

He said Campbell took the morning-after pill for a relative who he was concerned about.

"He wasn't thinking straight. He could have purchased it for a minimal cost."

Sandston said Campbell had resigned from his job before he was dismissed. Because of his conviction and the fact he was in his mid-60s he was "probably not going to get employed again".

"This offending has brought an abrupt end to his career," Sandston said.

He said Campbell had achieved some highlights in his career, including that he had pushed Pharmac to change thyroid medication which had been upsetting patients.

"He has a good side but when his personal life crumbled he started offending," Sandston said.

Judge Whitehead convicted and fined Campbell $400 on each charge, plus court costs and reparation of $127.31.

- The Nelson Mail

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