Two men admit to stealing drugs in Claydon Pharmacy break-in

Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Two men have admitted breaking into a village pharmacy on Saturday evening, stealing a "large quantity" of medication. 

Andrew Lewis, 40, of no fixed abode, and Andrew Billman, 37, of Gipping Road, appeared via video link at Ipswich Magistrates Court on January 31. 

Both men pleaded guilty to breaking into Claydon Pharmacy and stealing a number of controlled and prescription drugs. 

The value of the drugs stolen is unknown, however prosecutor Wayne Ablett said that 17 different types of medication were missing. 

He said that Lewis and Billman smashed the window of Claydon Pharmacy shortly after 9pm on Saturday January 29 and proceeded to load a large quantity of medication into a plastic bin. 

Police attended the scene with a member of staff and reported that cabinets had been emptied. 

CCTV identified Lewis and Billman, with a medical dispenser identifying Billman specifically, as he was a regular customer at the pharmacy. 

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When police visited Billman's property, Mr Ablett said there was a "delay between police knocking and the door being opened" and that there was evidence the men had tried to dispose of some of the boxes by flushing them down the toilet. 

He also told the court that prescriptions could be identified by patient names on the side of some of the packets. 

Both men tested positive for opiates and cocaine in custody and were found to be in breach of orders from previous convictions. 

Lewis was in breach of a suspended sentence order handed out in March 2021, while Billman was breaching a community order from November 2021 and is also on crown court bail. 

Dino Barricella, mitigating for Andrew Lewis, said that while "custody was inevitable" consideration should be given to his client's mental health issues. 

He said: "He is homeless and as a consequence lives a somewhat chaotic life. 

"As a result of this chaotic life he lost the medicine that helps and had the insight to realise that without it he can be, in his own words, 'a liability to society'." 

He added that Lewis "very foolishly" broke into the pharmacy out of desperation for medication to calm his mood and that when caught he "made a full and frank admission at the first opportunity" and was co-operative and showed remorse in police interview. 

Mr Ablett told the court that Lewis suggested in interview that he thought he might get the help he needed with addiction and mental health if he was caught for the burglary. 

The prosecution pushed for higher culpability for both defendants, as the pharmacy was deliberately targeted and an element of planning had been involved. 

But Mr Barricella countered, saying there could be a "distinction between someone who targets pharmacies to sell drugs on for profit" and someone who targets for drugs that may help their mental health. 

Magistrates declined jurisdiction and committed the case to the crown court for sentence, with the date to be fixed.