A DOCTOR caught committing fraud in Ballymena has been warned by a judge he has a “lot to lose” if he re-offends.
District Judge Nigel Broderick was speaking to John McClelland (46) who committed fraud by false representation in a “breach of trust” whilst on holiday in Northern Ireland from the north east of England.
McClelland, with an address listed as Featherstone Grove, Gosforth, in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday where he had previously pleaded guilty.
The charge faced by the defendant read that on August 17, 2018, he dishonestly made a false representation to an employee of a pharmacy ‘namely that you were another person entitled to write prescriptions’.
A prosecutor told an earlier court the defendant had been to a pharmacy and said he was a doctor and began writing a prescription for items including codeine which he said was for a family member.
The court heard that at the time the doctor had been the subject of “restrictions” on writing prescriptions.
At the previous court, Judge Broderick noted a pre-sentence report showed the doctor had a case involving “24 sample charges” mentioned at court in England.
A defence solicitor told the earlier court that at the time of the Ballymena matter the doctor was in Northern Ireland on holiday to visit his mother and father who live in the Derry/Londonderry area.
The solicitor said the doctor was “totally ashamed” of what he had done.
He said the incident happened at a “low ebb” in the doctor’s life when he had a “large debt” and was suffering from chronic back pain.
Judge Broderick noted the doctor had an addiction issue.
He said it was a “breach of trust” case.
The judge had previously adjourned the case saying he was not minded to send McClelland to prison as he was “engaged in rehabilitative work”.
Back at Ballymena Court on Thursday, the defence solicitor said the doctor was doing a Community Order in England which included an 8pm curfew.
Judge Broderick viewed comments from a psychiatrist.
He said it was an “unusual sentencing exercise” because the defendant had appeared before a court in England for the exact same sort of offences and was given a Community Order.
Had the Ballymena offence been incorporated into the English sentencing the outcome would have been the same, he said.
The judge gave the doctor a two year conditional discharge for the Ballymena matter but warned him he had a “lot to lose”.