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Man who stole over £40,000 worth of Viagra avoids ‘stiff’ sentence

O’Neill claimed he stole the drugs due to 'intimidation' surrounding his own personal debt.
Stock image

Stock image

Drugs:Viagra

Drugs:Viagra

Steven MooreSunday World

An Ulsterman who stole over £40,000 worth of Viagra has avoided a ‘stiff’ sentence at Chester Crown Court.

Eugene O’Neill avoided going to prison after a judge made the ‘hard’ decision to suspend the 53-year-old’s sentence.

But the judge slammed the hard-up thief for failing to stand-up and admit his guilt at an earlier point.

Originally from Northern Ireland, O’Neill had been living in the Halton area of Merseyside when he robbed the pharmaceutical company where he’d worked for 20 years.

O’Neill stole a pallet of the erectile dysfunction medicine from Phoenix Medical Supplies in Rincorn, before hiding it and then loading it onto a van the following day.

He claimed he stole the drugs due to 'intimidation' surrounding his own personal debt.

Chester Crown Court heard that O’Neill, 53, worked at the company as a supervisor.

Prosecuting, Kirsty Linforth, explained that on January 21, he took the Viagra and was seen on CCTV separating it from the consignment.

The next day, another male assisted O’Neill with putting the pallet onto a Mercedes van.

On March 3, a security officer contacted the police about a ‘significant theft’ over an unaccounted pallet.

O’Neill, currently living with a friend in Widnes, was challenged by his employer and denied the theft.

He was then sacked after he failed to attend either of his disciplinary hearings.

A business impact statement was read out in court that spoke of the direct financial cost but also the indirect financial cost as five members of staff spent 60 hours investigating the incident.

This put lots of stress on the staff and work was delayed, creating further losses to the business.

Phoenix Medical Supplies also has a ‘great reputation’ in the pharmaceuticals industry and this case has had a knock-on effect on that.

The court heard that O’Neill has no previous convictions and is a man of previous good character.

Defence barrister Phil Tully said that the case has been delayed and an element of that is not O'Neill's fault.

He said that O’Neill had not further offended since the incident and it was described as a ‘one-off incident following 20 years of employment’.

It was also said there was ‘very little planning’ and the theft was committed at a ‘very low point in his life’.

O’Neill, who is currently unemployed, accepted that he didn’t engage with his employer but did later admit the theft via email.

Mr Tully added that he accepts there is a breach of trust but says it is not a role involving a high degree of trust.

He also said that it was very out of character for him, that O’Neill was intimidated due to debt outside of the company, that he has shown genuine remorse and entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity.

Recorder Simon Parrington said that O’Neill was in a position involving a high degree of trust.

He added that rehabilitation is a factor in his decision.

“You failed to admit your part in the theft with your employer,” said Mr Parrington.

“Having worked as a diligent employee for 20 years, this was out of character for you.

“Whilst you deserve to go away today the sentence will be one of 18 months that is suspended for 18 months.”

O’Neill must also complete 275 hours of unpaid work and pay a victim surcharge.

Steven.moore@sundayworld.com


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