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‘Get on the floor’: Kent man jailed for gunpoint pharmacy robbery

Simon Wightman has been jailed for 12 years after an armed robbery of a Kent pharmacy, police have announced.

A Kent man was jailed for 12 years by Canterbury Crown Court last week (June 16) for committing an armed robbery at a pharmacy in Whitstable, Kent, in December 2022, local police said this week (June 20).

On the morning of December 5, Simon Wightman, 52, of St Paul's Crescent in Boughton held pharmacy staff “at gunpoint” and ordered them to “get on the floor”, according to Kent Police.

Read more: Man who made millions from illegally selling POMs online jailed for five years

Mr Wightman then took off with prescription medication stolen from a pharmacy on Faversham Road, Seasalter, fleeing the scene in a silver VW Golf, it said.

A witness to the robbery was able to recall a “partial registration number of the vehicle” for the police, it added.

Read more: Pharmacy assistant lands jail sentence after stealing £330k from employer

Kent Police identified a car owned by Mr Wightman as a “suspect vehicle”, and he was arrested later that day, the force confirmed.

A spokesperson for Kent Police told C+D that the force could not release the name of the pharmacy in case it identified victims, nor what prescription drugs were stolen in case it could be considered medical information of Mr Wightman.

 

“Terrifying”

 

Kent Police’s investigating officer, detective constable Rebecca Keeler, described the robbery as “terrifying for the staff” and for those present in the pharmacy at the time.

But she added that the force’s “rapid response” saw Mr Wightman “quickly identified” and arrested, as well as the “removal of all firearms from his possession”.

Read more: Trio of crimes: Pharmacies hit by two burglaries and attempted robbery in one week

Officers searched Mr Wightman’s home in Boughton-under-Blean and his business premises in Herne Bay, Kent Police said.

They found the stolen medication, clothes matching those he was wearing during the robbery, a shortened shotgun and a 9mm pistol with ammunition at his residence, it added.

Mr Wightman was charged with “robbery, possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of an altered firearm and possession of ammunition without authority”, it said.

Read more: C+D crime in pharmacies investigation

He pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon and ammunition but went to trial on the other charges, according to the police.

After a trial in Canterbury Crown Court, Mr Wightman was found guilty of robbery, possession of an altered firearm and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery and was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment on June 16, it said.

“I hope the sentence now imposed sends out a message about how seriously offences of this kind are taken by Kent Police and the courts,” Ms Keeler said.

Read more: ‘Horrific’: Ex-pharmacy manager jailed for life for murdering brother in chippy

It follows a spate of attacks on pharmacies, most recently seeing a pharmacist struck-off the register after he had been coerced at gun- and knife-point to supply codeine linctus and Phenergan over a period of months.

In April, C+D reported that a man had been arrested and charged after a Crawley pharmacy was burgled of a drawer of Diazepam in late March. 

In February, three pharmacies across the UK were broken into or suffered an attempted robbery in the space of one week.

Read more: Pharmacist struck off for illegitimate codeine supply after threats to family

And in January, a knife attack in a Cumbrian Boots pharmacy saw a man taken to hospital with “injuries suspected of being caused by a knife”, and another man arrested and charged. 

Meanwhile, a former pharmacy manager was jailed for life earlier this year after stabbing his brother to death in a fish and chip shop in a “truly horrific attack”.

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