Locum pharmacist Neelu Sharma, registration number 2047478, has been struck off the professional register for attempting to exchange shoes she had not purchased for a £12 Asda cardigan.
Ms Sharma took the shoes from the shelves of a Nuneaton Asda branch and tried to gain store credit to pay for the cardigan, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) heard at a fitness-to-practise hearing on July 11.
The GPhC acknowledged that Ms Sharma had "an unblemished record as a pharmacist and as an upright person", but branded her denial and explanation of events as "inconsistent, manipulative and untruthful".
The GPhC branded the evidence of Neelu Sharma, registration number 2047478, "inconsistent, manipulative and untruthful"
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Ms Sharma was working as a locum for Asda in 2010 when she went into the clothing section of her branch and selected a cardigan and black shoes from the George range. She was already carrying a George bag containing children's slippers.
When Ms Sharma went to the counter, she said she wanted to exchange the shoes for the cardigan, but did not have the receipt. Ms Sharma asked if she could leave all the items behind the counter, including the children's slippers, until she completed her locum shift.
Afterwards, Ms Sharma went to pick up the items and told the staff member that she had submitted a receipt for the shoes earlier that day. Although the receipt could not be found, Ms Sharma received store credit for the shoes that paid for the cardigan.
But staff stopped Ms Sharma on her way out for failing to pay for the cardigan, which she denied. Ms Sharma was taken to the security room, where there was a "heated" exchange over her actions while they waited for the police to arrive.
Ms Sharma failed to offer a feasible explanation for her actions, but the GPhC accepted the stress of the situation meant there was a "clear potential for misunderstanding".
In her evidence to the GPhC, Ms Sharma claimed she had meant to return the children's slippers for credit, not the black shoes. She said she had only brought the black shoes to the counter to enquire whether there was a different size. Ms Sharma told the council she was tired after a difficult shift in the pharmacy and confused due to her thyroid condition. She claimed she was annoyed her receipt for the slippers had been lost and "just wanted to get home".
But the GPhC described her evidence as "inconsistent, manipulative and untruthful". The fitness-to-practise council ruled it was unlikely that two separate members of Asda staff would have misunderstood that Ms Sharma intended to exchange the children's slippers and not the black shoes.
CCTV footage showed that Ms Sharma did not check the size of the shoes when she took them off the shelf and the sales assistant said there had been no conversation that morning about wanting a different size.
The GPhC fitness-to-practise committee refuted Ms Sharma's claims of being confused, ruling that she had set out to conduct "a dishonest scam" to obtain store credit. The committee said it was concerned that Ms Sharma had persistently denied the allegations, which suggested a lack of remorse and insight.
The committee noted Ms Sharma was not currently working as a pharmacist, but ruled to strike her off the register to maintain standards and public confidence in the profession.
Read the full case here.
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