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Tuesday, September 8, 1998 Published at 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK


Fake who wrecked lives and justice

Onubogu deceived patients and the authorities for a decade

Godwin Onubogu took great steps to fake his life as a doctor, and he was not found out in the surgery, but in a series of courtrooms.

His career as a bogus doctor in south west London had started with a grant from the local council which later tried to shut him down.

But their actions failed and it was another of his money-making schemes which eventually got him into trouble.

He had made half a million pounds over a decade of deception, and then cost the justice system thousands by faking illness during court proceedings.

'Lazy' lab technician

Onubogu was born in Nigeria and came to Britain in 1966, where he passed O-levels and the first year of an Open University Science Foundation Course.

He worked in London as a lab technician. A former colleague told the Old Bailey trial he was "lazy, arrogant, dilatory and incompetent".

He was from a family of successful professionals but struggled to live up to this.

"All he wanted to do was to call himself doctor. He clearly thought of degrees as only a formality," said Louise Kamill, who prosecuted at his trial.

He did this by deception in the late 1980s, moving into premises in south west London and setting up a laboratory testing company with the help of an enterprise agency grant.

The business was known as Iketam Clinical Laboratory Services, and eventually based at Swan House, Balham High Road, south west London.

It was not illegal, but over a ten year period, Onubogu used it as a front to see around 400 "patients", earning an estimated half a million pounds from his activities.

The deception was detailed and convincing.

Onubogu wore medical clothing and a stethoscope, there were syringes and a prescription pad in his surgery, along with evidence of qualifications including photographs of him in academic robes.

[ image: Kenny Everett: Bogus doctor claimed to have diagnosed comedian]
Kenny Everett: Bogus doctor claimed to have diagnosed comedian
He even displayed his own faked medical articles, and claimed to have diagnosed the Aids condition which eventually killed the late radio and TV personality Kenny Everett.

Onubogu's usual tactic was to tell a person they had a sexually transmitted disease.

It worked since the victim was discreet and paid what was needed to clear up the non-existent condition.

But it had devastating effects.

Once he even accused a woman of sleeping around.

When she protested that she had only one partner he asked her how she could be sure that he was not being unfaithful.

The court heard how this, and two other relationships failed because of mistrust.

He also indecently assaulted a 15-year-old girl while examining her, and gave injections and prescribed medicines to other "patients".

Failed attempt

The enterprise grant came in the late 1980s from Wandsworth Council but by 1992 the council was suspicious.

The Health and Safety Executive, the General Medical Council and the Royal College of Pathologists, all said they were powerless to act.

It was another money-making scheme which proved Onubogu's downfall.

He frequently appeared as an expert witness, defending motorists in court, but a police forensic scientist suspected all was not well, and reported him.

Police acted quickly and arrested Onubogu.

[ image: Sir Kenneth Calman: Warning issued]
Sir Kenneth Calman: Warning issued
The government's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Kenneth Calman then took the unusual step of warning anyone that had taken tests with Onubogu to retake them immediately, and a confidential hotline was set up.

Once caught, Onubogu claimed heart problems meant he could not appear in court, but medical examinations proved he was faking this too.

The trial was originally listed to start in February this year, but Onubogu, who was on bail, failed to appear on time.

The following day he was sent for a medical examination, but turned up late for this before going home, claiming to be unwell.

After being ordered back to court the next morning, he collapsed that evening.

The trial had to be adjourned despite an examination proved his good health the following morning.

Onubogu's bail was withdrawn, but in April he again failed to appear for the re-trial, with the judge instead being presented with a two-line sicknote from Brixton prison hospital.

Again tests showed he was healthy, but as jurors were about to be sworn in at the Old Bailey, Onubogu lay down in dock, declaring: "I am not well. I need a doctor. The judge is trying to kill me."

He was hauled on to a chair - and promptly sank back on to the floor.

Again tests were performed - this time in the dock - and Judge Gerald Gordon decided to continue with the trail stating, "it is a matter for him if he continues to lie on the floor".

Onubogu finally decided that he would sit up properly just before the jurors were called in.

They heard his tale of deception, before finding him guilty of a list of offences.

He was jailed for five years, with the judge calling him a "charlatan".

Questions are bound to be asked of the health and legal systems as to how he was allowed to get away with it for so long.

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