Jailed Suffolk pharmacist ordered to repay employers from pension

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A pharmacist who was jailed last year for stealing drugs to order while he was working at a Suffolk health centre has been ordered to repay his employers with money from his pension.

Joseph Achina, who had worked for Boots for 28 years, was the manager of the Boots pharmacy at Stowmarket Health Centre at the time of the thefts during a seven month period in 2016 and 2017.

The stolen drugs, which included diamorphine, diazepam and sleeping tablets, were valued at £4,000 but would have been worth much more on the black market.

Achina had initially claimed he had stolen the drugs to send to family in Ghana, but messages on his phone and iPad showed the drugs were stolen to order.

On Wednesday (March 27) Achina appeared at Ipswich Crown Court via a prison video link for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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The court heard that Achina’s benefit from his offending was £3,600 and his available assets were £360 in a bank account and a £3,500 pension

Judge Rupert Overbury made a £3,600 compensation order which he directed should be paid as compensation to Boots.

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Sentencing Achina last year Judge Overbury said there had been a significant risk of harm to the people who received medication that hadn’t been prescribed to them.

Achina, 56, of Ashcroft Road, Ipswich, admitted stealing medication belonging to Boots Pharmacy at the centre, in Violet Hill Road, between October 31 2016 and June 10 2017.

The court was told that suspicions were aroused in November 2016 after 147 packets of diazepam containing 4,000 tablets went missing. In June 2017 a further 140 packets of diazepam were missing and Achina was arrested.

The court heard some of the drugs were unwanted or out-of-date medication, which had no value as they would have been destroyed by Boots.

Stolen drugs worth £1,000 were found at Achina’s home and the total value of medication stolen by him was £4,417.

Mr Wilson said messages found on his phone and iPad showed Achina had offered drugs for payment and the messages also included instructions for collection.

Adam Pearson for Achina said his client had had serious financial problems when he stole the medication and had been taking medication for depression.

He said he had no previous convictions and had found his job “difficult and stressful”.

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