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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Fraud dentist's jail sentence cut
David Heppleston
Heppleston's fraud was described as sophisticated and blatant
A North Yorkshire dentist who committed what is believed to be one of the largest frauds in the history of the NHS has had his jail sentence reduced.

David Heppleston, 46, stole 450,000 during an eight-and-a-half year period while running a surgery in Scarborough.

He was jailed for four years in December after admitting fraud.

But the Court of Appeal ruled the term failed to reflect the fact that he did not get away with the money tax-free, and cut it to two-and-a-half years.

Heppleston invented "ghost" patients and claimed for fictitious treatment for existing patients, York Crown Court heard at his sentencing.

'Persistent dishonesty'

He admitted 15 fraud charges at an earlier hearing and asked the judge to take into account a further 85 offences of obtaining money transfers by deception.

In the appeal court, Judge Chapman, sitting with Mr Justice Tugendhat, said: "This was calculated, blatant and persistent dishonesty over eight years.

"A large sum of money has disappeared into his pocket.

"This money should have been used for patient care and his conduct will undermine public confidence in dentists generally to the detriment of other dentists."

But some of the losses would be recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the judge said.

And the sentencing judge might have been under the mistaken impression that the money was obtained tax-free, he said.

In fact, it was part of the income of the dental practice and subject to income tax.

The reduced sentence also gave credit for Heppleston's early plea of guilty.


SEE ALSO
Fraud dentist told to repay debt
04 May 07 |  North Yorkshire
Dentist who cheated NHS is jailed
08 Dec 06 |  North Yorkshire

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