A pharmacist has successfully appealed his sentence for stealing addictive drugs with a wholesale price of $20,747 from his employer
In late 2017, Jason David Meiers appeared before the Hervey Bay Magistrate’s Court and pleaded guilty to stealing controlled drugs while working as a pharmacist in Maryborough.
He was convicted of one offence as stealing as a servant, and one of fraudulently falsifying or destroying a record, and sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment, wholly suspended, with an operational period of three years.
At an appeal hearing at the District Court of Queensland, the court heard that the appeal was based on the sentence imposed in 2017 being “manifestly excessive”.
Mr Meiers had been employed at the Maryborough pharmacy for seven years and was in charge of controlled drugs there.
The offences took place from January 2015 to May 2017, at which point the company noticed that controlled drugs had been ordered from wholesalers and not recorded in the controlled drug book.
“As a result a full audit was conducted which revealed that a number of controlled drugs and the controlled drug book were missing,” the court noted.
“Another controlled drug book was damaged. Subsequent investigations showed that over the period of his offending the appellant took 29,124 tablets and 85 patches of various drugs including oxycodone and dexamphetamine.
“The wholesale price of those drugs was some $20,747. On 30 July 2017 police executed a search warrant on the appellant’s residence. He there told them that he stole the drugs for his personal use and that there were none left. He said he had altered the control drug book to conceal his offending.”
Mr Meiers had developed an addiction to the unprescribed drugs after he developed anxiety and depressive symptoms relating to several stressors, including trouble within his marriage, following his family’s move to Hervey Bay from Brisbane.
The court also heard that Mr Meier’s father was a Vietnam veteran whose PTSD and alcohol use may have impacted significantly on the pharmacist’s mental health.
Following his conviction Mr Meiers had participated in an opioid replacement treating program and was being treated for his mental health issues.
He also repaid the full sum of $20,747 to his employer and, foregoing his registration as a pharmacist following its suspension by AHPRA, has begun studying to become a counsellor in regard to drug and alcohol addictions.
The Court reduced Mr Meier’s sentence as a result of the appeal after comparing it to that imposed in similar cases.
“Ultimately I concluded it is appropriate to sentence the defendant to 12 months imprisonment, wholly suspended, with an operational period of 12 months for the offence of stealing as a servant,” the judge said.
“In imposing that sentence I’ve had regard to the overall circumstances of his fraudulently falsifying or damaging a record in order to hide his dishonesty.
“I have also reduced the sentence from that in the three cases I found of most assistance to take account of his restitution.
“It is important to understand however this restitution does not, effectively, buy an offender out of a ‘jail sentence’. In relation to that offence I sentence him to a concurrent two months sentence, wholly suspended, with an operational period of 12 months.”