Paracetamol thieves get two years

The Supreme Court has jailed two National Health Services (N.H.S.) employees for over two years for stealing 16 boxes of paracetamol valued at $10,560 tala.

Pio Fesola’i and Amanono Mafualo – former pharmacy technicians in the Pharmacy Division of the National Health Services – appeared before by Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson yesterday for sentencing.

The defendants’ charge sheet stated that last year at Motootua, the defendants dishonestly took 16 boxes of paracetamol tablets valued at $10,560 from their employer and supplied them to an Emma Toāmua, who ran a delivery business selling items such as paracetamol to small retail shops presumably around the hospital or Apia area.

According to Justice Vui, the court records showed that Ms. Toamua was also charged. However, he did not know the outcome of her court case.

“At least one other person who worked for these defendants have also been charged and the court file note that that person has pleaded not guilty to the charge and his trial has been scheduled for later this year,” he said.

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The defendants were paid $150 for one box of paracetamol according to the police summary of facts.

The court also heard that police received reports from the Samoa Victim Support Group, about the activities of the defendants, and that is what led to them investigating the matter. Both defendants were taken to a police station for an interview and they both admitted that they stole boxes of paracetamol as alleged and sold it to Toāmua.

Justice Vui said custodial sentences is to hold the defendants accountable for their actions and for the harm that they caused to the community through such offending.

“And the sentences are design to send the message to defendants themselves as well as to the general public that if you do this sort of thing you steal from your employer you can expect a prison term,” he added.

The Judge also took into consideration the aggravating factors noted by prosecution in their memorandum, which is the elements of premeditation as it took some planning to do what the defendants did.

“It is also relevant that it was not done on only one occasion and according to the summary it was done on six separate occasions over a one-year period."

“It is also relevant that the value of stolen properties is significant it exceeds $10,000 and perhaps one of the most significant aggravating factors is the fact that these were hospital stores and they are there for the good and benefit of the people of our country,” he said before sentencing the two defendants to two and a half years.

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