A thief told a colleague at a Co Tipperary drugs manufacturer that he needed just two Valium for a pain in his head — but he ended up stealing 6,000.
That is according to former worker at Suir Pharma (Ireland) Ltd, Niamh Shelley, who has failed in her unfair dismissal action against the firm.
Ms Shelley was sacked by the pharma firm for her role in the theft, where Suir Pharma Ireland Ltd concluded that she colluded with the thief, “JX”, in the theft of the diazepam (Valium) drugs.
At the unfair dismissal hearing before the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) held over two days in Thurles, Ms Shelly claimed that JX wanted to take one or two drugs for the pain in his head and did not know that he would take thousands of drugs.
Ms Shelley was adamant that she did not facilitate JX in taking the drugs and was shocked that Suir Pharma thought she had something to do with the theft.
Ms Shelley had worked at the firm since 2002 and was a manufacturing operator in the compression department.
Ms Shelley knew JX was going to take a few tablets for personal pain relief but she did not report it to a superior because she believed he was only taking one or two. She said the gardaí had never spoken to her about the incident.
CCTV footage of the incident on September 3, 2014 shows that Ms Shelley had left drums of Diazepam unattended for 15 minutes and JX took four containers of the drug.
Gardaí informed Suir Pharma of the theft the same day. JX resigned from his job within days and was subsequently charged and brought to court.
The theft was internally investigated by Suir Pharma and Ms Shelley told the firm’s head of operations that JX asked her if he could take some diazepam for his own use. She did not realise how much he intended taking.
Ms Shelley was suspended and was dismissed in September 2014 after an internal investigation found there was collusion between her and JX.
In sacking Ms Shelley, the firm pointed out that the drugs were destined for the local area and the matter could have serious ramifications for the wider community, the company, its clients and its 130 employees.
In its ruling, the three- member tribunal stated it was satisfied that it was reasonable for Suir Pharma to conclude that Ms Shelley had colluded with JX in and about the theft of the drugs.
The EAT stated that Ms Shelley admitted she was aware JX was going to take some of the controlled drugs and she failed to report this to a supervisor or management.
The tribunal stated: “Protestations by the claimant that she wanted nothing to do with the theft of the drugs are inconsistent with her behaviour over the relevant period on September 3, and do not detract from the fact that she facilitated the theft.”
It added: “The wrongdoing constituted gross misconduct warranting summary dismissal. In light of the possible far-reaching effects of the wrong committed in this case, the tribunal finds that the sanction of dismissal was not disproportionate.”
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