Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 14:13 UK

'Dog patient' dentist is jailed

Newton and Judith Johnson
The Johnsons performed 'illegal extractions of the public purse'

A dentist and his wife who stole more than 30,000 from the NHS by claiming money for treatment never given to patients have been jailed.

Newton Johnson, 52, and his wife Judith, 51, also claimed for treatment for "phantom" patients, which included the name of a family pet dog.

He was jailed for 21 months and his wife, the practice manager, for 18 months at Swansea Crown Court.

The couple, based in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, admitted 37 offences.

Newton Johnson admitted 20 offences of theft totalling 37,555. His wife pleaded guilty to 17 charges of theft amounting to 32,357.

The fillings they performed were the fillings of their own wallets
Justin Gau, prosecuting

Previously the court heard that between January 1999 and July 2004 they claimed money from the Dental Practice Board, both for "phantom patients" and treatment that registered patients had never received.

They were caught out after the Welsh section of the Counter Fraud Service investigated them following a tip-off.

Justin Gau, prosecuting, told the court how Newton Johnson's sister's pet dog called Varlo was on the patient list as "Varlo Johnson."

'Loathe it'

Mr Gau added: "They were saying to the public purse 'open wide' and performing a series of illegal extractions.

"The fillings they performed were the fillings of their own wallets."

Mr Gau said Johnson was unhappy in his work at the Inkerman Street practice in Llanelli and kept a diary. Some of the entries were read out in court.

He wrote:

  • "Hard to face endless days treating the great unwashed."
  • "This bloody job, who would be a pigging dentist."
  • "You have to laugh. Burned a patient's lip this morning and snapped another's dentures."
  • "I hate my work so much. I drink it away. I loathe it. I wished I could stop being a dentist."

After the NHS began its probe another entry read:

  • "We are in deep shit now. We must earn double. It's the only way."

Johnson's barrister, Jim Davis, said the couple, who could not afford to repay the money, faced "absolute ruin."

Judge Keith Thomas said the offending had been "serious, substantial and prolonged."

Dentist's 'phantom patient' scam
31 Mar 08 |  South West Wales

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