A MERSEYSIDE dentist who earned £125,000 a year was branded a “complete catastrophe” by a judge yesterday after inventing non-existent patients to falsely claim even more money.

Robert Nolan also claimed payment for high-value work he had never carried out on genuine patients.

Judge Graham Morrow, QC, said Nolan had committed “calculated, blatant and persistent dishonesty for what was a significant period of time.”

He said: “The money which you received dishonestly ought to have been used for patient care and your actions have undermined the public trust in dentists generally and disadvantaged others who are honest.”

But he agreed to suspend a prison sentence, after hearing of Nolan’s personal circumstances and his “positive good character”.

Defence counsel Stuart Lawson-Rodgers, QC, told the court that Nolan suffers from a long-standing depressive illness and could be a suicide risk if sent to prison.

Nolan created fake patients at the practice he has run on Great Homer Street, Liverpool, since 1990, to falsely claim cash from the Dental Practice Board.

Judge Morrow suspended Nolan’s 36-week sentence for 18 months and placed him under supervision.

He also ordered him to do 300 hours’ unpaid work in the community, pay £1,500 in costs and imposed a three-month curfew.

The judge told Nolan his behaviour had caused him to lose his good name and his standing in the community and would probably lead to him being struck off.

Eric Lamb, prosecuting, told the court Nolan had run his practice single-handed since 1990, after qualifying from Liverpool University in 1988.

But, in 2005, suspicion was aroused because of the number of claims he was making.

An investigation was launched and a significant number of records were seized from his surgery.

The 44-year-old denied 32 charges of obtaining money transfers by deception.

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