A GP practice manager stole £58,000 from a doctor’s surgery because he did not feel he was being paid enough for his work, a court heard.
Former RAF serviceman Duncan Millar ran into debt and started taking money intended for patients by writing cheques to himself.
He narrowly escaped jail after Judge Rosalind Coe told him: “Whether or not you felt you were being paid enough, simply taking money from the public was criminal behaviour.”
Sheffield Crown Court heard Millar, who celebrated his 59th birthday on Wednesday, went off the rails after his parents died within a month of one another in 2006 and his 23-year marriage broke down.
The father-of-two decided to make a fresh start in South Yorkshire and became practice manager at Dr Dilip Chatterjee’s surgery on Dunninc Road in the Shiregreen area of Sheffield, moving in with his second wife who was a nurse there.
Jim Baird, defending, said the couple bought a £179,000 house with a £147,000 mortgage and, as Millar was left with nothing from his first marriage, his new wife paid the £30,000 deposit on the property.
They had repayments of £1,200 a month and Millar thought his salary was “insufficient” so to make ends meet took out a £30,000 personal loan and ran up credit card debts of £5,000.
He started taking small amounts from the surgery’s funds in August 2009.
He did so again almost every week until March 2012.
“The final amount is something which completely amazes and shocks him,” said Mr Baird.
Millar, of Drover Close, High Green, Sheffield, admitted fraud of just over £58,000.
Laura Marshall, prosecuting, said when arrested in June last year Millar told police he had been writing cheques to himself from the surgery’s funds supplied by the local Primary Care Trust and cashing them for two years. Only the practice manager or the doctor had access to the account.
He said Dr Chatterjee was often away in India and would leave him blank cheques to make out or he would forge the doctor’s signature.
He went to cheque shops in Firth Park and Chapeltown in Sheffield and travelled to Rotherham to obtain cash which he would spend immediately on household expenses rather than banking.
He could not tell police why he did it other than he had large debts and when he ran short he would just write cheques.
He was now ashamed of his actions.
Mr Baird said Millar had lost his reputation and exemplary good character and immediately admitted his crime when challenged.
He joined the RAF at the age of 17 and was a non-commissioned officer for 23 years serving in Germany and leaving the service with a long service and good conduct medal.
He later helped veterans of the Bosnia and Gulf War conflicts.
After leaving the RAF, Millar retrained within the NHS and became a practice manager handling a budget of £1.5m without any problems at another surgery before moving to Sheffield.
“But the last six years have taken their toll and he’s a broken man and a mere shadow of the man he was,” said Mr Baird.
The barrister told the court his client did not lead an expensive lifestyle and still had large debts.
His wife, who was the practice nurse, was on long term sick leave for much of the period.
Judge Rosalind Coe said Millar had fulfilled a “long and commendable service” for his country but it had ended unhappily “not just for you and your family but this is public money you defrauded intended for the care of patients.”
He had breached the trust place in him, offended repeatedly and stolen public money but she weighed that against his previous good character, personal circumstances and his early guilty plea.
Millar was given an 18-month jail term suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid community work and made the subject of an extended curfew.