A FORMER paramedic who stole drugs from Ambulance Tasmania had been suspended on full pay for about a year, before he changed his plea to guilty.
Timothy James Millwood, 50, of Longford, had pleaded not guilty to all of his charges in late October 2012.
But he pleaded guilty in the Launceston Magistrates Court last week to 13 counts of having stolen morphine, one count of having used morphine, one count of having stolen the sedative midazolam, and one count of having possessed midazolam.
Ambulance Tasmania had suspended Millwood after the theft allegations came to light in July 2012.
He resigned in late September this year.
Health And Community Services Union assistant state secretary Tim Jacobson said Ambulance Tasmania had no choice but to suspend Millwood on full pay because he had not been found guilty of an offence.
The union met Millwood shortly after he was charged, to ensure he was afforded procedural fairness, but was not involved after that.
``What people do in terms of the legal process is entirely up to them,'' Mr Jacobson said.
``From the outset, he was claiming his innocence.
``At the end of the day, it would have been best for everyone if he had pleaded guilty in the first instance.
``It would have saved everyone a lot of money and a lot of grief.''
Ambulance Tasmania chief executive Dominic Morgan said the organisation acted immediately when its routine procedures revealed the thefts.
``Following his appearance at the Launceston Magistrates Court when he was formally charged, Mr Millwood was suspended on full pay while the matter was before the courts,'' Mr Morgan said.
``This was the appropriate course of action to ensure natural justice was upheld.''
Mr Morgan said Millwood was offered support and external counselling while inquiries were undertaken and he remained on sick leave.