Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Former pharmacist reprimanded and disqualified following conviction for trespass and theft
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Former pharmacist reprimanded and disqualified following conviction for trespass and theft

02 Jun 2023

A former pharmacist has been reprimanded and disqualified for five years after being convicted of criminal trespass and for failing to notify the Pharmacy Board of Australia (the Board) of the charges.

The Board referred Mr Andrew Roberts, a former registered pharmacist, to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) in May 2022.

The Board alleged he had engaged in:

  • professional misconduct, in that he was convicted of crimes including trespass with intent to commit theft; theft; and dishonestly manipulating a machine for benefit (creating false computer records), and
  • unprofessional conduct for failing to notify the Board of the criminal charges.

At a hearing in December 2022, the tribunal heard that since mid-2018 Mr Roberts had been employed as a pharmacist in Adelaide. Just over a month after starting his employment, Mr Roberts dishonestly obtained drugs of dependency by creating false records of prescriptions in the pharmacy’s drug dependency computer program. He did this on about 39 occasions, entering about 68 false prescriptions over an 18-month period.

Mr Roberts resigned from the pharmacy in September 2019. On three occasions after having resigned and returning his shop keys, Mr Roberts trespassed and repeated the behaviour of accessing the computer program, making false entries, and stealing drugs of dependency.

The conduct came to light soon after his resignation and Mr Roberts was charged with the criminal offences. He pleaded guilty and was convicted in the South Australian Magistrates Court.

Mr Roberts didn’t notify the Board of the criminal charges. Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, registered practitioners must notify their National Board within seven days of charges being laid that are punishable by 12 months of imprisonment or more.

Although Mr Roberts entered a plea of guilty to the criminal charges, he didn’t participate in any way in the tribunal proceedings. The tribunal noted that ‘on the information before the Tribunal he has done nothing further to accept professional responsibility for his actions’.

‘He has failed to provide any explanation for his conduct to the professional regulator and has failed to participate in these proceedings,’ the tribunal noted.

In considering the risk that Mr Roberts might pose if he were to practise in the future, the tribunal noted that no evidence had been submitted to substantiate his claim (to the Magistrate’s Court) that he had a substance use disorder or that he had successfully been through a rehabilitation program. The tribunal considered that without that evidence, a ‘significant period of disqualification and prohibition against providing any health service’ was required to protect the public.

The tribunal found that Mr Roberts’ criminal convictions constituted professional misconduct and made the same finding in relation to the conduct as a whole.

The tribunal ordered that Mr Roberts:

  • be reprimanded
  • be disqualified from registration for five years, starting 13 December 2022
  • be prohibited from providing any health service for five years, from 13 December 2022
  • pay the Board’s legal costs.

The tribunal’s full decision was published on Austlii.

Page reviewed 2/06/2023