Dentist who defrauded NHS to fund life of luxury is jailed

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A dentist who lived a luxury globe-trotting lifestyle while conning the NHS out of £1.5m has been jailed for seven years.

Dr Joyce Trail perpetrated the three-year fraud to fund stays in £1,000-a-night hotel suites in the United States and the Caribbean, and pay for a designer shoe collection “to make Imelda Marcos proud”.

Jailing Trail at Coventry Crown Court, Judge Peter Carr said the 50-year-old grandmother’s offences had been motivated by pure greed.

Trail, who ran a practice in Handsworth, Birmingham, is thought to have netted around £1.4m by making bogus claims for dental work which she had not performed between April 2006 and March 2009.

A further £94,000 in employer’s contributions was paid into Trail’s pension during the period of the indictment, bringing total proceeds from the fraud to £1,556,743.

Judge Carr was told that the sum could have funded 73 newly-qualified nurses for a year, 221 hip replacements, or life-saving drugs for 51 leukaemia patients.

Trail, of Park Drive, Little Aston, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud in July following a five-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Jailing Trail, who pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice before her trial, Judge Carr said he believed the roots of the offences lay in an earlier NHS investigation into her conduct.

The judge told her: “In 2004 you were investigated. The result of that investigation was that it was decided that you had over-claimed in relation to services you provided. You were ordered to pay back over £320,000.”

The judge went on: “It is my view that, having been ordered to pay back such a large sum, and not wishing to forgo the lifestyle to which you by then had become accustomed, you deliberately set out to ensure that you did not.

“You knew as a result of that investigation exactly what was required to try and ensure that you fraud was not discovered. You did what you did out of pure greed.”

Investigators are known to have found expensive jewellery, designer clothing and shoes, and foreign currency at Trail’s home, and also uncovered evidence of extensive foreign travel.

The dentist’s trial heard that she lodged more than 7,000 false claims for treating patients, including dozens for people who were actually dead.

Prior to sentence, Judge Carr likened Trail’s assortment of Jimmy Choo shoes to the footwear collection famously amassed by Filipino politician Imelda Marcos.

Condemning the dentist’s conduct as calculated, blatant and persistent dishonesty, the judge said he was satisfied that although she had recruited others into the fraud, she was its “organiser and leading light”.

The judge also sentenced Trail’s daughter, Nyri Sterling, who assisted in efforts to defraud the NHS by processing false paperwork.

Jailing the 33-year-old for two years, Judge Carr accepted that she had not been involved at the beginning of the conspiracy and had not lived a lavish lifestyle.

Sterling, of Ashwood Close, Oldbury, West Midlands, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud after jurors heard that her initials had been found on 15 bogus records at her mother’s practice.