PHILLIP Lawrence Slater was an experienced pharmacist with a financial stake in five Hunter chemists when he began supplying steroids to an Australian representative body builder in 2016.
A strike force set-up to investigate him found a “pharmacy in his car” and a raid at his Lorn home uncovered 70 different medications that he had taken from his pharmacies for personal use.
“He was helping himself to discarded drugs for recreational use,” magistrate John Chicken said in Maitland Local Court on Thursday, encapsulating the most serious charge against Slater.
Since then, Slater, now 38, has “lost everything”; including his livelihood, with the Pharmacy Board of Australia ordering him not to practise as a pharmacist.
“The financial punishment he has paid is enormous,” Slater’s barrister Peter Harper told Mr Chicken.
Strike Force Blacklock was set-up in 2016 to investigate the supply of restricted substances and illicit drugs by Slater, who at that time was a part-owner of Amcal Max Rutherford, Telarah Pharmacy, McKeachies Run Pharmacy, The Morpeth Pharmacy, Amcal Waratah and Old Bar Pharmacy, according to a statement of police facts.
Police were listening in when Slater negotiated the sale of steroids and other medication associated with bodybuilding to a well-known professional bodybuilder.
And when they stopped Slater’s car in East Maitland on April 5, 2016, they found 16 boxes containing 48 syringes of testosterone, 60 capsules of Phentermine, used for weight loss, drugs which block the growth of estrogen and Melatonin.
“I’m just transporting some stock between my shops,” Slater told police.
“I’m a pharmacist.”
Steroids are a prohibited drug, and despite Slater’s profession he was supplying them for an unlawful purpose, outside of work hours and without a prescription, according to police facts.
Two months later, detectives and NSW Health officers raided Amcal Max Pharmacy at Rutherford, Slater’s home and the other pharmacies he had links to.
Slater ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying a prohibited drug and one of failing to comply with the conditions of his license after Mr Harper managed to negotiate the withdrawal of a number of other serious charges.
On Thursday, when it came time for Slater to be sentenced, police prosecutor Sergeant Garry Rowe pushed Mr Chicken to impose a custodial sentence, saying a message needed to be sent to the community.
“The circumstances here is we have a professional man who chose independently to involve himself in this illicit industry,” Sgt Rowe said.
Mr Harper submitted that the matter could be dealt with without a conviction.
Slater is someone the court would deem a “good vehicle for general deterrence”, that is, others in the industry could heed his mistakes and, hopefully, not stray down the same path.
And ultimately, Mr Chicken came down somewhere in the middle; convicting Slater, imposing an 18-month good behaviour bond and fining him a total of $800.