Pharmacist back behind counter

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Grant and Vera Gillard with Laurie Prior. Photo / Neville Marriner
Grant and Vera Gillard with Laurie Prior. Photo / Neville Marriner

The pharmacist left traumatised after fatally fighting off a burglar says he opened for business yesterday because of his customers.

Grant Gillard was back serving at his Mt Albert pharmacy in Auckland yesterday, just five days after his struggle with Bruce Jones which resulted in the intruder suffering a fatal heart attack.

Gillard, 68, said: "We have many mental health patients that need weekly dispensing of their medicine so as soon as that is disrupted it causes incredible anxiety.

"And for elderly people, they are used to coming to the same place and they know us."

Gillard said the store had been broken in to many times over the past four decades and described the experience as a pharmacist's "worst nightmare".

He wants to see changes to the way pharmacy break-ins are dealt with by police - who only send officers if a burglar is still believed to be on the premises.

Gillard was called to the store at 4.30am on Tuesday by a security guard after an alarm was triggered. After a search of the premises failed to locate the burglar, the guard left Gillard alone.

He was confronted by Jones, a drug addict, and the pair struggled before Jones collapsed and died.

Emergency staff tried to revive the 43-year-old.

Although he has been barred from speaking about the incident, Gillard told the Herald on Sunday: "I was defending myself."

He said the strain of going out to investigate break-ins had taken its toll.

"This was a very frightening one. Most of these ones that happen at three or four in the morning are dreadful.

"Getting the phone call at 4am and coming out not knowing what to expect.

"I am having more disturbed sleep yes. I don't know about nightmares but certainly I wake up earlier because things keep going through my mind."

Gillard said he had been given a hero's return yesterday.

He said: "As soon as I walked along the path yesterday there were people coming up, shaking my hand."

Gillard's son Matthew, who is back in New Zealand on holiday, said: "That is a terrible, terrible thing that has happened. It has been a big week and it has affected all of us."

Friend and local resident Laurie Prior said: "Grant is a part of Mt Albert. They are lovely people. They are old identities in Mt Albert."

- NZ Herald

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