‘Out of sheer vengeance’

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A doctor who was jailed for the attempted murder of a pharmacist, after she reported him to AHPRA, has had his appeal knocked back

An Adelaide GP who was found guilty of the attempted murder of a Port Lincoln pharmacist in November last year has had his appeal dismissed.

The court found that on 10 October 2017, 69-year-old Brian Holder violently attacked the 28-year-old pharmacist with a 15-centimetre fishing knife while she was working at the Terry White Pharmacy in Port Lincoln, South Australia.

Six months earlier, the pharmacist had made a report to AHPRA after becoming concerned about certain irregularities in prescriptions given by Mr Holder to eight indigenous women in her local area.

The court found that when Mr Holder received a letter from AHPRA that it would be conducting an investigation into his prescribing, which included the pharmacist’s full name, he began to plot to kill the pharmacist.

He entered her workplace holding a bouquet of carnations, under which he had concealed a knife, and violently attacked her when she appeared.

The court described the CCTV footage as “violent and graphic”.

The victim sustained deep lacerations to her arm, hand and thumb while defending herself in the struggle that ensued.

This week Mr Holder appealed his sentence of 15 years’ jail with a non-parole period of 10 years for attempted murder.

He argued that the sentencing judge had erred by sentencing on the basis that he “will remain a dangerous man” and was not remorseful, contrary to the opinion of psychiatrist Dr Craig Raeside.

Mr Holder also argued that there was procedural unfairness in the way sentencing submissions were conducted, and that the sentence was “manifestly excessive”.

Auxiliary Justice Michael David, from the Supreme Court of South Australia’s Court of Criminal Appeal, found that sentencing judge Ann Vanstone had not erred in finding that Mr Holder had a lack of remorse or that he was a danger to the public.

“With all the material and evidence before her, including the graphic vision of the CCTV footage, she was entitled and justified in holding her view,” Justice David said.

“Her Honour was clearly concerned about the likelihood of any other stressors affecting the appellant to the extent that he would be a danger to the public.”

He also found there was no unfairness to the defence regarding sentencing submissions, stating that Justice Vanstone had indeed considered the evidence of Dr Raeside before making her findings.

Justice David added that, in his view, the sentence was not manifestly excessive.

“The appellant was an intelligent, educated man who carefully planned what could have been the most horrific outcome out of sheer vengeance,” he said.

Mr Holder had found out the pharmacist’s name as she had authorised AHPRA to release it, after the organisation advised that her concerns would be expedited if she did so.

Since this time AHPRA has launched an independent review of its policies and procedures in relation to safeguarding the confidentiality of notifiers.

“AHPRA has committed to publishing the key observations from the review, any recommendations and our response to those recommendations,” a spokesperson from AHPRA told AJP.

“We want it to be safe for people to report their concerns and will continue to review our policies and processes in light of relevant findings, including this latest case.”

Readers who are distressed can contact the Pharmacists’ Support Service on 1300 244 910.

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1 Comment

  1. Apotheke

    AHPRA should never name the notifier to the practitioner being complained about. Why they did in their letter to the doctor outlining the complaint is unfathamonable. AHPRA is culpable in what happened to the Pharmacist. Their actions certainly make anyone think twice about reporting a fellow health professional. Even the nature of the complaint may indicate to the person concerned who the complainant may be. Actually naming the complainant is a highly dangerous thing to do so why do it?

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