Achina v General Pharmaceutical Council [2021] EWHC 415 (Admin) (01 March 2021)

A Boots pharmacist convicted of theft of medicine lose High Court appeal against GPhC decision to strike him off.

Case details

Joseph Achina was a pharmacist employed by Boots.  A routine comparison of purchasing and ordering of stock showed a loss of approximately 140 packets of diazepam, amounting to 4,000 tablets. The loss was valued at £3,333.

In his interview with a representative of Boots, the appellant admitted ordering stock and stated that he had been sending it to a family member in Ghana. It is said that on this occasion the appellant also admitted taking other drugs from the store, being items of stock, which had been returned, or unwanted medications, including diamorphine and temazepam, which had also been sent to Ghana. He said there was no stock held at his home address.

Following the appellant’s arrest, a search took place of his home address. Various medications were seized, including diamorphine (a Class A drug). In all, the drugs seized at the appellant’s home were valued at approximately £1,083.

On 27 October 2017 Mr Achina was convicted at Ipswich Crown Court of theft from a shop or store and on 30 July 2018, the appellant was convicted at Ipswich Crown Court of absconding. He was sentenced to two years six months’ imprisonment in respect of the offence of theft and, in respect of the offence of absconding, the appellant was sentenced to one month imprisonment.

GPhC Fitness to Practise

Mr Achina’s fitness to practise was found to be impaired and the GPhC Fitness to Practise committee consequently issued him with a Striking Off Order thereby removing him from the register.

High Court Appeal

Mr Achina appealed the Striking Off Order on a number of grounds including unfairness, the fitness to pracrise committee failed to have regard to relevant evidence and the sanction was excessive because it failed to have regard to the mitigating evidence.

The appeal was thrown out on all the grounds.  Mr Justice Lane noted, amongst other things that:

“The Committee was entirely justified in finding that the appellant’s “extremely limited insight” had, in fact, diminished still further, at the time of its sanction decision. The appellant’s lack of insight was of considerable significance to the issue of sanction. The Committee was fully entitled to find that the appellant “had displayed no insight whatsoever into the potential consequences for patients and the public from diverting drugs outside of the legitimate supply chain.”