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Indian doc in UK jailed for fraud

Debasmita Mukhopadhyay, 39, had submitted forged timesheets to claim more than 40,000 pounds.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2006 11:33 IST

An Indian doctor working in Britain's National Health Service (NHS) who submitted forged timesheets to claim more than 40,000 pounds has been convicted and jailed for one year.

Debasmita Mukhopadhyay-Chattopadhyay, 39, had been hired by the South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust to work short stints on four occasions at South Tyneside District Hospital.

But after her employment ended in February 2004, she went on to forge three of her former seniors' signatures to claim for a further 11 months' work, the Newcastle Crown Court heard.

She denied 10 offences of obtaining money by deception, three of forgery and one of attempting to obtain money by deception. She had claimed there had been a conspiracy against her, but a jury convicted her last month on all of the counts.

The sentence was pronounced in Newcastle late last week. The court was told on Friday that Mukhopadhyay-Chattopadhyay had repaid 30,000 pounds of the money she stole, reports from Newcastle said.

Jailing her for a year, Judge Tony Lancaster told her: "I can tell you from my perspective, it a sad sight to see a doctor, an intelligent and well-educated woman with beneficial skills in the dock for these offences.

"But in spite of your positive qualities of which there are many, greed got a hold on you and you committed these offences, stealing over 41,000 pounds although I observe you have repaid 30,000 pounds of that which you had taken.

"You, as a professional doctor, were trusted by your colleagues. You had no need of the money you had taken.

"In addition you brought suspicion on others working at the hospital and in your defence at trial you suggested not only that the investigating officer had planted evidence but that he was part of a conspiracy with others to bring about your ruin."

The judge also ordered Mukhopadhyay-Chattopadhyay, who has a young daughter, to repay a further 7,000 pounds compensation.

Christopher Knox, defending lawyer, said none of the money had been spent on high living. "She was a respectable, professional woman up to the date of her conviction. She is humiliated by this verdict. She has lost a huge amount," he said.

Mukhopadhyay-Chattopadhyay came to Britain from India to improve her knowledge of obstetrics and gynaecology.

First Published: Nov 13, 2006 11:20 IST