NHS accounts worker Stacey Tipler blew cash for cancer drugs on shopping

 

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The Independent Online

An NHS worker is facing jail over a fraud that saw hundreds of thousands of pounds meant for vital cancer drugs fleeced from a world-renowned hospital and used on shopping sprees and mortgage payments.

Stacey Tipler exploited her job in the accounts department to help orchestrate a scam that resulted in just over £642,000 being diverted from the Royal Marsden in London.

The cash was funnelled to a group of co-conspirators who then passed the lion’s share to Tipler’s partner and the ringleader Scott Chaplin.

But the couple’s associates used the rest to pay their mortgages or spend thousands on luxury items by designers such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton and Apple gadgets. One of the perpetrators spent £200 at the London Parachute School.

For several months after December 2011, Tipler, 32, substituted account numbers of pharmaceutical firms who were due payment for cancer drugs with the details of men recruited by Chaplin.

At one point a firm threatened to stop supplying medication after failing to receive payment because of their actions, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Ahead of sentencing Judge Anthony Leonard QC said the fraud was “highly professional” and “brilliant”.

He added: “I’ve not seen a better one, frankly, in the course of dealing with quite a few years of fraud.”

While some of the money was recovered, the hospital remains £310,000 out of pocket, prosecutor Anthony Hucklesby said.

He said: “[The hospital’s] patients tend to have more complex types of cancer and this fraud targeted the suppliers of essential cancer drugs.

“There was one stage that one of the main pharmaceutical suppliers threatened to stop supplying drugs to the hospital as a result of non payment, which would have meant patient treatment could not continue.”

Tipler, a mother of two from Carshalton, Surrey, who worked at the hospital for 10 years, was found guilty after a trial of conspiracy to defraud.

In mitigation, her barrister Leon Kazakos said: “This episode of dishonesty, short-lived as it was, marks a very substantial departure from a life that was hitherto entirely blameless.”

The judge will pass sentence today. He remanded Tipler and Chaplin in custody while the other six were bailed.