NHS staff jailed for selling £75k dental equipment

The pair were jailed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Greg Macvean

Two NHS employees, who were involved in the theft and reset of £75,000 worth of dental equipment, taken from health board properties in Edinburgh and Musselburgh, have been jailed for nine months.

Darren Lawson, 41, from Boroughdales, Dunbar, and 47-year old Gianni Donofrio of Rope Walk, Prestonpans, were told by Sheriff Frank Crowe at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today: “Both of you were in positions of trust.

“You were previously of good character and admitted the offences at an early stage, but I do find that taking advantage of the NHS and stealing items is a matter the public would be concerned about”.

Lawson, a storeman and driver for NHS Lothian, had pled guilty previously to stealing dental equipment from the Duncan Street Dental Centre in Edinburgh and from Edenhall Hospital in Musselburgh between March 5 and September 5, 2013.

Donofrio, a facilities site supervisor at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh pled guilty to resetting the stolen goods between the same period. Sentences had been deferred for background reports.

The items were sold on eBay and the thefts came to light when a dentist, who had purchased some of the equipment, contacted the manufacturers to ask if it was covered by warranty.

Checks by the company showed the equipment was part of a consignment sold to NHS Lothian. Investigations by NHS Scotland Counter Fraud Services and Police Scotland led to arrest of the men.

The investigations also recovered £50,000 worth of the stolen equipment. Both men lost their jobs.

Defence solicitor, Mary Moultrie, appearing for Lawson, told Sheriff Crowe that at the time of the theft her client’s financial situation was “extremely difficult”.

“He had a flat and sitting tenants and was in dispute about evicting them”. He had worked for the NHS for 20 years, she said, The places where the equipment was stored had low security and on occasions drivers were asked to dispose of unwanted equipment.

Edenhall Hospital and the Duncan Street Centre were closing and Ms Moultrie said: “He (Lawson) was in the erroneous belief that they were not the correct equipment and not compatible”. She added: “He is genuinely ashamed and embarrassed about his actions. He is assessed as being at low risk of re-offending, but the report says he has suicidal tendencies, anxiety and depression”. Lawson, she said, had only gained £6500 from the offences.

Angela Craig, Donofrio’s lawyer, said he had worked for the NHS for 10 and a half years, and was in a long term relationship with a partner and family. He had told the Social Worker: “You should not take what is not yours” and said such actions were “immoral”.

The report described him as suitable for a Community Payback Order. Ms Craig said her client had made “very little” from the sale of the equipment. “He was not very organised” she said.

Sheriff Crowe told the men: “Clearly there was some laxity in the system, but you took advantage of that and you had a duty of trust to your employers”.

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