Pharmacist caught with hand in the till

A 71-year-old pharmacist found guilty of 52 charges of theft is an “experienced and practised liar,” a Court has heard

The pharmacist was fined $26,000 as well as reparation of $2425 to his employer after repeated small thefts from the till at a Melbourne pharmacy.

In December 2011, a pharmacy co-owner overheard a customer complain that the pharmacist had not given her change, and decided to look through the pharmacy security cameras’ footage.

What he saw there led to a review of all available CCTV footage and 59 charges of alleged theft, on 52 of which the employee was convicted.

The co-owner saw the pharmacist pocket $80, His Honour Judge Chettle told the Melbourne court – and the next day, saw his employee put $50 in his pocket.

The co-owner challenged the pharmacist and asked him to empty his pockets, and the pharmacist put the $50 note on a table and claimed it was his.

“When [the co-owner] showed you the CCTV footage you resigned,” Judge Chettle noted.

The pharmacy owners looked through more footage and found the pharmacist had taken amounts of between $10 and $120 on a number of occasions.

“In each charge for which you were convicted it can be seen that you took cash notes from customers and either put them in your pocket or, if you put them in or on the till, withdrew notes from the till and placed them in your pocket,” he said.

“On other occasions you simply opened the till and took money from it and then pocketed it.

“The various transactions were the subject of records kept by an electronic till and sometimes in a written book known as the Methadone Book. You falsified the till records in various ways to attempt to conceal your dishonest conduct.

“You made numerous no sale entries where there had been sales, you voided legitimate transactions and you reduced the amount of genuine transactions by undervaluing the sales. You claimed in evidence that these entries were errors or mistakes.”

Judge Chettle said that in his opinion, the employee pharmacist was “an experienced and practised liar. You believe you can obfuscate and bluff your way through this offending by relying on your good character and contrived personality.

“You traded on a carefully crafted avuncular style to have people believe that you were trustworthy and affable.

“In truth you were what used to be called a flimflam man.”

The total sum found to have been stolen was $2670.

Judge Chettle said that while the total sum stolen was relatively low, the offending involved repeated examples of serious breach of the pharmacy owners’ trust and the pharmacist had exhibited a “complete lack of remorse”.

“You traded on that trust and stole from those who trusted you. You knew the CCTV cameras were operating, but you thought you could get away with your repeated crimes because of the misplaced trust the owners had in you.”

The pharmacy owners expressed hurt and dismay at their former employers’ actions.

While the pharmacist could have faced up to 10 years’ imprisonment on each charge for which he was convicted, he was fined $26,000 plus reparations.

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