Verdict sparks a violent outbreak

MARK NICHOLLS A pharmacist who worked at two shops in Norwich brought violence and chaos to a disciplinary hearing in London yesterday.

MARK NICHOLLS

A pharmacist who worked at two shops in Norwich brought violence and chaos to a disciplinary hearing in London yesterday.

Samuel Edwin Ashby attacked an official with a foot-long metal bolt, after being struck off by his ruling body.

He attacked the legal officer with the weapon at the end of the hearing in the normally tranquil setting of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

The official, left streaming with blood from his head, was taken to hospital, while the pharmacist - a 61-year-old Australian who had been the subject of complaints relating to his time working in Norwich, Weymouth, Llandrindod Wells and Bridlington - was arrested and taken to Kennington police station.

The attack came after an announcement by the tribunal chairman, Lord Peter Fraser QC, that Ashby would be struck off. As Lord Fraser announced the striking off, Ashby swore and then climbed over the desk towards the chairman demanding action about pharmacy in this country.

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He produced a foot-long metal bolt and attacked an RPS legal official in the council chamber before being held to await police before arrest.

Registered originally in Perth, Western Australia in 1966, Ashby came to England in 1998 and, between August 2002 and March 21, 2003, worked at the St John's Pharmacy, 24 Crescent Street, Weymouth, where problems arose over his conduct.

Further problems occurred at Moss Pharmacies at 78 Hall Road and Dereham Road, both in Norwich, and Temple Street, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, and the Alliance Pharmacy, 122 Quay Road, Bridlington, Yorkshire.

In the earlier hearing of the allegations against Ashby of Field House, Grantham, he was accused of abusing staff, reducing some to tears, assaulting one and being rude about a customer. Ashby was said to have told an inspector he was from "Australian farming stock", but to have apologised for his comments at Weymouth.

Between July 28 and 31, 2003, at 78 Hall Road, Norwich, he was said to have been "verbally abusive towards members of staff, using offensive language", and at 562a Dereham Road, Norwich, to have been "verbally abusive" to the company's area development manager and to have all three assistants "in tears."

Giving evidence, Ashby had insisted he was trying to raise standards in this country. He claimed he had met with antagonism and difficulty among staff. He had also claimed he had suffered from health problems.