4 Feb 2011

Pharmacist won't be charged over death of intruder

7:41 pm on 4 February 2011

No charge will be laid by police against an Auckland pharmacist over the death of an intruder during a burglary in his store.

Bruce Jones, 47, died after a confrontation with pharmacy owner Grant Gillard who discovered him hiding in his Mt Albert store on 24 August last year.

Mr Gillard said he put Mr Jones in a headlock when the unemployed man attacked him with a spanner, while his wife phoned police.

Police will not comment on why they have chosen not to charge Mr Gillard but did say they weighed up a number of factors, including whether there was enough evidence. The matter has been referred to the Coroner.

Mr Gillard is working at the pharmacy again and told Checkpoint he is relieved at the decision.

"It has been very close to six months now since the incident and certainly weighing on our minds, so it was a big relief to know that it wasn't going any further."

Mr Gillard says he has been concerned that pharmacy burglaries are getting downgraded in importance, with police sometimes not making inquires until two days after the event, and hopes this incident will make the police response "much more rapid" in the future.

Though his ordeal is over, Mr Gillard says he still thinks about the struggle with Bruce Jones.

"It leaves an indelible impression in your mind, as you can imagine, and it's something that people wouldn't like to go through.

"I've had a huge response from my colleagues, because they can picture themselves being in that instant as well. There's still quite a few pharmacy break-ins occurring in New Zealand."

Right decision, says lawyer

Mr Gillard's lawyer Richard Earwaker believes the police decision not to charge his client is the correct one.

Mr Earwaker says the incident has been thoroughly investigated by police and it is clear there is no basis for any criminal charges to be laid.

The ordeal has been hard not only for his client but for the relatives of Mr Jones, and both families will be relieved to put it behind them, he says.

Mr Jones had several criminal convictions and spent time in prison for dangerous driving, causing the death of a woman in a crash in 2002.

Auckland lawyer Matthew Goodwin represented Mr Jones and says he was a troubled character who had a drug problem and suffered from the effects of an old head injury.