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Attempted clinical negligence fraud lands claimant with jail sentence and an order to repay damages and costs

Date published:

On 2 July 2021, Mr Darren Dommett was sentenced[1] to 29 weeks, almost 7 months, in jail for attempting to defraud the NHS of nearly £2 million. The Court found Mr Dommett had deliberately and grossly exaggerated the extent of his disabilities. The sentence also took into account his failure to engage in the process and attend Court hearings.

His Honour Judge Lickley, QC, said: “people who try to cheat their way to compensation should be punished by way of a custodial sentence, that being the only appropriate way” and Mr Dommett’s “actions were so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence was appropriate.”

NHS Resolution, on behalf of the Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust, were represented by Capsticks Solicitors LLP, and James Todd, QC, at a Committal Hearing before His Honour Judge Lickley, QC, who found Mr Dommett had knowingly, with intent and planning over a number of years, exaggerated the disabilities connected to the clinical negligence claim.

Mr Dommett began a claim in August 2015 for compensation against Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust for treatment received in August 2013, regarding the failure to diagnose and treat Cauda Equina Sydrome (CES), a spinal condition requiring urgent surgery. The Trust admitted liability in April 2016 following which Mr Dommett claimed damages of about    £2 million. He claimed that he needed constant care and supervision, was unable to work and had severe mobility issues, requiring the use of a wheelchair. However, as a result of surveillance, evidence was obtained which demonstrated he was far more capable than he had reported and that he was dishonestly exaggerating his injuries and compensation claim. His clinical negligence claim settled for £60,000, reflecting appropriate compensation for the genuine element of the claim and supported by medical evidence. Mr Dommett was ordered to repay £20,000 which had been paid to him during the claim, as well as the Trust’s legal costs.

These proceedings should not deter genuine claimants, as the Trust and NHS Resolution will continue to ensure that those who have suffered injury as a result of substandard medical care are properly compensated. However, this is a stark reminder of the consequences of making a dishonest or exaggerated claim against the NHS.

Helen Vernon, Chief Executive of NHS Resolution:

[1] Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust v Darren Dommett – Committal Hearing – 2 July 2021