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Veteran paramedic stole money from dead patient, court told


A paramedic of 40 years brazenly stole hundreds of dollars from the bedside table of an elderly man who had died.

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Louis Roza and his colleagues had to force their way into the home in Brisbane’s Aspley suburb as the man’s partially blind 81-year-old wife was unable to navigate her way around.

Paramedics could not revive the 78-year-old man found inside the bedroom before 5am on November 18.

A colleague who saw 62-year-old Roza holding the man’s wallet assumed he was looking for identification, but then he walked away with his hand behind his back, a Brisbane court heard on Tuesday.

The paramedic heard rustling then saw Roza put his hand in his left back pocket before leaving the house.

He was suspicious, contacting a supervisor when finding money missing from the open wallet.

Police discovered the elderly man had withdrawn $2000 the previous day to pay bills, the court heard.

A detective also approached Roza who had $580 he claimed was his and that did not appear to have been in a pocket for a lengthy period of time, prosecutor Eddie Fraser said.

Some notes were only found when the paramedic was seen trying to put something in his left cargo pants pocket while being taken to the police station in the back of the officer’s vehicle.

He denied taking any money or touching the wallet, saying he couldn’t provide an explanation for the witnesses’ version.

Fraser said the offending was “brazen” and Roza was obstructive when questioned about the stealing.

“He was entrusted to assist in the death of an individual as a responsible public servant performing a function and in performing that function diligently saw fit to take property that didn’t belong to him,” he added.

Defence lawyer Leigh Rollason said Roza lost his job after the theft and had “been the subject of extensive humiliating publicity”.

“Even Derryn Hinch on social media had a go, for god’s sake,” he told the court.

Roza appeared to have had a successful career until the theft and was remorseful afterwards, acting magistrate Michael Bice said in handing down his sentence.

The stealing was opportunistic, not planned and “quite bizarre in some respects”.

“Your offending behaviour was unsophisticated,” he added.

“The offending appeared to be paradoxical and unplanned … and it lacked any reason and judgment.”

Roza – who has no criminal history – was sentenced to 18 months’ probation after pleading guilty to one count of stealing.

Bice did not record a conviction, saying this was a genuine case where it was warranted that he use his discretion.

“Other than this offence you would have been considered an upright citizen within the community,” he told Roza.

The former paramedic had earlier repaid the money.

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