Pharmacist stole £24k from surgery

A PHARMACIST at a Suffolk health centre who stole more than £24,000 has been spared an immediate prison sentence.Father-of-three Mark Leah, 37, stole the money over a 20-month period while he was employed a superintendent pharmacist at the Woolpit Health Centre, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Jane Hunt

A PHARMACIST at a Suffolk health centre who stole more than £24,000 has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Father-of-three Mark Leah, 37, stole the money over a 20-month period while he was employed a superintendent pharmacist at the Woolpit Health Centre, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Leah of Ashwell Road, Bury St Edmunds, admitted stealing £24,746 between April 2006 and December 2007.


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Making him the subject of a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years, Recorder David Anderson described the offence as a “sustained pre-planned programme of deception”.

In addition to the suspended prison sentence the judge ordered Leah to do 120 hours unpaid work in the community and made him the subject of a suspended sentence supervision order.

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He said that the full amount stolen by Leah had been repaid before the police became involved in the matter and it was inevitable that he would be struck off by the Royal College of Pharmacists as a result of his dishonesty.

Godfried Duah, prosecuting, told the court that Leah had been working at the health centre for six years when it was noticed that money was going missing.

He said that Leah had later admitted taking £30 a day cash by refunding items obtained on a pre-payment prescription certificates.

He said he had gone into a separate room so that his dishonesty was not seen by other people.

Mr Duah said that when Leah was challenged about the missing money he had made full admissions and had pleaded guilty to the theft at the earliest opportunity.

Andrew Shaw, for Leah, said his client had no previous convictions and had repaid the money he had stolen in full before the police became involved.

He said that Leah got into financial difficulties after the breakdown of his first marriage and he had been made bankrupt earlier this year.

Mr Shaw said at the time of the theft Leah had been suffering from depression as a result of feeling unhappy at work following changes at the health centre in relation to the way prescriptions were dispensed.

Mr Shaw said that although Leah's employers regarded what he had done as serious they had stated that they didn't want him to go to prison.

Mr Shaw said that Leah had ongoing financial problems and faced having his home repossessed.

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