Drug stealing pharmacist loses appeal against being struck off

Joseph Achina managed Boots at StowHealth

Joseph Achina has lost his appeal against being struck off for stealing drugs to order from Boots pharmacy at Stowmarket Health Centre - Credit: Archant/Suffolk Constabulary

A disgraced pharmacist who stole drugs to order from a Suffolk health centre has lost his appeal against being struck off.

Joseph Achina stole diamorphine, diazepam and sleeping tablets valued at £4,417, but worth more on the black market, during a seven month period as manager of the Boots pharmacy at Stowmarket Health Centre.

Achina, who had worked for Boots for 28 years, initially claimed he had stolen the drugs to send to family in Ghana, but messages on his phone and iPad showed they were stolen to order.

Then aged 56, of Ashcroft Road, Ipswich, Achina was jailed for 31 months in 2018, having admitted theft from the centre in Violet Hill Road between October 31, 2016 and June 10, 2017.

On February 17 this year, Achina took his case to the Administrative Court to appeal against a subsequent decision, by the Register of Pharmacists, in February 2020, that his fitness to practise was impaired.

A committee had concluded suspension would not be sufficient to satisfy the public interest in upholding confidence in the profession and upholding professional standards.

It concluded that Achina's behaviour was "fundamentally incompatible with continued registration", and that removal from the register was "necessary and wholly proportionate".

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Achina appealed the decision on five grounds, including that the committee imposed an excessive sanction because it failed to have regard to mitigating material, failed to conclude that the public interest had been served by criminal proceedings, and failed to take into account the length of time he had already been suspended by virtue of an interim order.

He also claimed to have been denied a fair hearing as a result of the presence on the committee of individuals he considered adherents of Islam – and biased against him being a black Christian appellant. 

Appearing at court without legal representation, Achina asked The Honourable Mr Justice Lane to view a YouTube video of recorded speech by a man who grew up a Muslim, but converted to Christianity, and contended that a tenet of Islam was to behave with hostility towards Christians and Jews.

Mr Justice Lane found no merit in Achina's submissions and nothing that began to suggest any hostility on the part of the committee or its members.

Achina was invited to make written submissions as to why he should not pay the General Pharmaceutical Council's costs of £6,681.64.

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