Suffolk doctor spared jail for getting £8,000 loan from patient when bankrupt

Doctor given suspended jail term

Doctor given suspended jail term - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk GP has been given a suspended prison sentence after obtaining £8,000 from a patient without telling him he was subject to bankruptcy restrictions.

Dr Michael Debenham, of Crowcroft Glebe, Nedging Tye, near Ipswich, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to obtaining credit without informing the insurance broker that he was still an undischarged bankrupt.

The offence occurred on or about May 20, 2012.

Ipswich magistrates heard Debenham – who has previously been a GP in Ipswich, Hadleigh and Boxford – still had not paid back any of the money to his patient and friend of 10 years.

Emer Morrison, prosecuting, said 63-year-old Debenham was made subject to a bankruptcy order on December 22, 2009.

In December 2010 he entered into a four-year bankruptcy restriction undertaking which meant he could not obtain credit of £500 or more without disclosing his financial status.

Miss Morrison said Debenham approached a patient of 10 years who was an insurance broker for a loan in May 2012 and entered into a formal agreement.

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On the first repayment date no money was received.

In August Debenham gave the broker a cheque for £1,000 but it could not be redeemed.

Eventually the broker contacted legal representatives who in turn contacted the Official Receiver regarding a contravention of Debenham’s bankruptcy notice.

The court was told Debenham was convicted of fraud in 2012 when he wrote out prescriptions for himself and family members while being suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC).

At the time he working as a locum at the Hawthorn Drive surgery in Ipswich.

As a result of the fraud conviction he had been ordered to pay £365 in fines and court costs.

Claire Lockwood, representing Debenham, said in 2012 her client had been suffering from serious mental health issues.

She added it was accepted there had been a loss of £8,000 to the patient who had become a friend of the GP.

Magistrates were told Debenham’s difficulties over the past few years have had a big effect on him.

Miss Lockwood said: “It’s had an enormous impact on his life already.”

Debenham was sentenced to a six-month jail term, suspended for 12 months.

He was also made subject to a 12-month supervision order with a 120 hours’ unpaid work requirement.

In addition Debenham must pay his victim £5,000 compensation as well as £1974.90 prosecutions costs and £15 to the victims’ fund.

After the hearing concluded a spokeswoman for the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service confirmed Debenham can still practice, but only under strict conditions.

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