Fermanagh GP who failed to pay £10k back to patient in time to face sentencing

Courts

Courts

A doctor who borrowed £10,000 from an elderly patient but failed to pay it back in time was told today (Friday) that she will be sentenced next month for her dishonesty.

Dr Michelle Mellotte, who has since repaid the money, pleaded guilty to a single charge of fraud by abuse of position.

At Omagh Crown Court, sitting in Dungannon, the prosecution said that the 61-year-old general practitioner, of Bannagh Road, Kesh, Co Fermanagh, accepted that she was occupying a position in which she was expected to safeguard the financial interests of the pensioner and dishonestly abused it to obtain the £10,000 from him.

The offence was committed over a period from January 30, 2010, to April 22, 2011 against Michael McGrory.

Crown prosecutor Sam Magee told Judge Stephen Fowler QC that Mr McGrory, who was in his late 70s or early 80s, is now deceased.

“The victim was vulnerable and was in ailing mental and physical health and was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease at the time.

“He was not married and he had no children. He was a man of some means after inheriting a substantial amount of money in 1997.”

Judge Fowler QC was told that in February 2010 the GP turned up at his property.

The prosecutor added: “She asked Mr McGrory could she borrow some money from him. A cheque was produced in the sum of £10,000. She wrote on the back the date of 2/2/10 and she would ‘pay him back in the summer of 2010’ and signed it.

The cheque was lodged into her bank account and the money was later withdrawn to pay off her debts to several individuals.

By the summer of 2010, the court heard, the £10,000 had not been paid back to 
Mr McGrory.

The court heard that the General Medical Council and the PSNI subsequently launched investigations into the loan arrangement.

The prosecution lawyer said Mellotte, who has no previous criminal convictions, had “ultimately repaid the money”.

Gary McHugh, defending, said that the married woman, who had been suffering from depression prior to the commission of the offence, had got herself into financial difficulty after borrowing money from other people.

“It was a ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ situation. The money went into her account and it was being paid out to others.”

The GP’s office manager told police that she had known Mellotte for 22 years and believed “she was not intending to be dishonest or intending to keep the money” she had borrowed.

Adjourning sentence until April 4, Judge Fowler released Mellotte on continuing bail.