Bogus doctor who ruined lives is jailed

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The Independent Online
A BOGUS doctor, who made thousands of pounds and ruined hundreds of lives with his phoney diagnoses, was jailed for five years at the Old Bailey yesterday.

Godwin Onubogu, 57, was found guilty of a series of charges, including indecent assault, wounding, obtaining money by deception, supplying prescriptions and perverting the court of justice during two Old Bailey trials. Sentencing him, yesterday, Judge Gerald Gordon said: "Those who submit themselves to medical treatment have got to be protected against charlatans - that is what you are."

The "barely educated" laboratory techinican was a one man medical crime wave, it was claimed. The sheer scale of the damage caused was such that Sir Kenneth Calman, the Government's Chief Medical Officer, was forced to issue an unprecedented alert for patients who had received his treatment.

Onubogu carried out HIV and cervical smear tests which were worthless and left patients without a proper course of treatment and at risk. He also appeared in court as an expert witness on behalf of those charged with drinking and driving, in return for fees of around pounds 8,000 per case.

Following the appeal by Sir Kenneth the search began for up to 500 patients who had been given cervical smear and HIV tests by Onubogu. Further appeals from a number of health authorities asking anyone who had been treated by Onubogu to contact them. Around 100 did so, the rest still have not been traced.

A loophole in the law led to the Health and Safety Executive, the General Medical Council and the Royal College of Pathologists being frustrated in attempts to take any action against the Nigerian father-of-two. Onubogu, who came to Britain 31 years ago, claimed to have various qualifications, including a doctorate from the Columbia Pacific University awarded after a correspondence course. He also claimed to have worked at the London Chest Hospital and the Laboratory of London Chemists.

He falsely boasted that he had diagnosed that Kenny Everett, the late DJ, suffered from Aids, and in one of the references he supplied for himself he wrote "Onubogu is an enigma whom we all admire and glorify". In reality his "medical expertise" consisted of a stint as a laboratory technician at St Thomas's Hospital, in south London in the l970s. His education was a handful of "O" levels and one year at Open University.

Onubogu started up with the Iketam Laboratory in Balham High Road, south London, in the early 1980s. He was backed by the Wandsworth Enterprise Agency, set up by Wandsworth Council, who provided a grant. The opening ceremony was carried out by the then Mayor. Onubogu went on to run three other clinics.

In September l992 police contacted Wandsworth Council officials after hearing medical samples including blood, urine and tissues were being kept under dangerous conditions. But attempts to close it down failed. The council discovered there was nothing to stop anyone from setting themselves up in a laboratory and calling themselves a doctor, as long as they did not say they were registered.

His cases included one women with sleeping difficulties who was charged pounds 415 and told she must have contracted a sexual disease from her partner. The couple split up. A patient with a cut on his hand was told he had infected with a sexual disease by his wife. A couple who went to him with their children was told the whole family had venereal disease. The mother and father separated. A woman who told Onubogu that she was about to get married to her Afrian fiancee was told she had given him gonorrhea.

Many of the tests involved intimate physical examinations, over which Onubogu was charged with indecent assault. He is also alleged to have indecently assaulted a 15-year- old girl he examined.

Onubogu was discovered giving evidence as an expert witness for accused drink drivers at up to pounds 8,000 a time. One of his favourite diagnoses was that the driver was "an unwilling victim of his aberrant biochemistry". Almost of all of it was described at his subsequent Old Bailey trial as " nonsense, rubbish and lies".

Detectives took along a qualified chemist to the clinic and in his opinion none of the equipment was capable of analysing alcohol in blood or urine.

Further searches revealed the sheer extent of the misdiagnosis, non-existent or wrong treatment and the arbitrary doling out of prescription medicine being carried out by Onubogu.