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Suspected bogus nurse Denice Stewart charged with fraud

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

Maidstone Crown Court, where Stewart's case was heard

by Keith Hunt

A bogus nurse is facing sentence after admitting eight offences at Maidstone Crown Court involving fraud and deception.

Denice Stewart, formerly of Northfields, Speldhurst, near Tunbridge Wells, wept as she pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud, two of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, theft, possessing articles for use in fraud and using a false instrument with intent.

The 47-year-old mother was working in Kent between 2006 and 2011 when she was not qualified to do so and falsely represented she was a registered nurse.

Two of the fraud charges relate to the Bryant Street Medical Centre in Chatham and the Brecon Medical Group in Wales. She was employed at four GPs’ practices in Medway between 2006 and 2010.

Prosecutor Alan Gardner said Stewart first fell under suspicion when she was working in Wales in May 2011 and the practice manager was concerned about her credentials.

“She almost immediately stops working at that particular practice,” he said.

Asked by Judge Jeremy Carey if it was correct when Stewart stated her 26-year-old son had been in a coma, Mr Gardner said he had not seen any direct evidence but did not take issue with it.

“Because of the apparently brazen way this deception was practised over many years, one has to take great care in saying what is and what isn’t reality, rather than fantasy and fabrication,” said the judge.

"patients who came within her compass all believed she had the status she did not have" – prosecutor alan gardner

It was such a case where somebody had with great skill deceived the authorities.

“She should understand this is a serious matter. Now she has entered her pleas, she must take the consequences. Patients who came within her compass all believed she had the status she did not have.”

Judge Carey said patients had regarded Stewart as an entirely satisfactory nurse, while others who heard about the deception were rightly concerned.

Peter Alcock, defending, said Stewart looked after her son who had brain damage and epilepsy as a result of an accident.

“There is a difficult and complicated background,” he said. “While the case is serious, there are glowing references.”

Mr Alcock said while the custody threshold was passed, a prison sentence may not need to be immediate.

Judge Carey said as a matter of law custody was the last resort, but he added: “I am not absolutely convinced I would be doing my duty by reaching the position where custody can be avoided.

“It is not said to cause the defendant greater anxiety, it is so she knows she is in a grave position. Many people were impressed with her. It is not a question of anything going wrong.

“She has difficulties herself, which means unpaid work is a non-starter.”

Adjourning sentence for reports until March 6, the judge told Stewart: “You should remind yourself when you ask why this is happening that you were the author of your wrongdoing and must take the consequences whatever they may be.”

Stewart lived in Brompton, before moving to Brecon, Wales.

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