Health official found guilty of stealing pills

An official at the National Health Services (N.H.S.) has been found guilty of stealing boxes of paracetamol tablets with value of more than $3,000 from the Moto’otua hospital. 

Fou Sekone, of Magiagi, is one of three defendants jointly charged with one count of theft as a servant.

His co-defendants, Pio Fesolai and Amanono Mafuolo, who also worked at the N.H.S. have already pleaded guilty to the charge. 

Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa delivered the guilty verdict for Sekone on Friday.

The charge against Sekone stemmed from allegations that on 31 September 2016 and 1 January 2018, he dishonestly took sixteen boxes of Pharmacare brand paracetamol tablets valued at $660 each. 

The total value of the tablets are $3,960, properties of N.H.S. 

Sekone was represented by lawyer, Leiataualesa Komisi Koria. 

The defendant was employed at N.H.S. with the other co-defendants in the Pharmaceutical Dispensary Services Division. 

The prosecution’s case was that the defendant was involved with Fesolai and Mafuolo in stealing the tablets and selling them to a woman named, Ema Toamua. 

The defendant was accused of removing the boxes from where they were stored in the pharmaceutical warehouse using the emergency exit door. 

The boxes were then delivered to Ms. Toamua’s house at Vaoala usually by the three men. 

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In her evidence, Ms. Toamua said she started receiving stolen boxes of paracetamol in the beginning of 2017, shortly after she met co-defendant Fesolai. 

She also testified that she had met Sekone through Fesolai. 

But the woman's claim was disputed by Sekone, who maintains he does not know Ms. Toamua. 

The defendant said he was never involved in his co-defendants' operation. 

However, Justice Tuatagaloa found Ms. Toamua's evidence reliable and credible. 

“She was consistent with her evidence and adamant that Fou (Sekone) was involved having seen him at times he would come to her house at Vaoala to deliver the paracetamol boxes either with just Pio or with Pio and Amanono and twice with just Amanono,” she said. 

“Furthermore, Ema had no motive to lie about Fou’s involvement in the offending. The evidence is, it was Ema who told the police about the involvement of Pio, Amanono and Fou who the police later charged.” 

Fesolai was described as the ring leader of the offending. 

Justice Tuatagaloa accepted the evidence of Ema, Fesolai and Mafuolo that Sekone was involved in the offending. 

“I find the suggestions as put forward by the defence that Fou was not involved far-fetched, sketchy and implausible,” she said. 

“Although the defendant Fou was betrayed as a humble and honest person, from my observation it is just too good to be true.” 

In her findings, the Supreme Court Judge said prosecution had proven beyond reasonable that the defendant whilst an employee of N.H.S. stole, together with co-defendants 16 boxes of paracetamol tablets. 

Sekone will be sentenced on 18 November 2019.

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