Burnley fake psychiatrist committed wicked deception, judge sayson February 15, 2023 at 4:27 pm

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Zholia Alemi worked as a psychiatrist for 22 years after she forged a medical degree, a court hears.

Zholia AlemiImage source, Police handout

A woman who faked a medical degree certificate to work as a psychiatrist for more than two decades committed a “wicked deception”, a judge has said.

Zholia Alemi worked across the UK after claiming to have qualified at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Manchester Crown Court was told.

Alemi, of Plumbe Street, Burnley, had denied 20 offences including forgery but was found guilty by a jury.

Judge Hilary Manley said she faces a jail term “of some substantial length”.

She will be sentenced at the court on 28 February after being convicted of 13 counts of fraud, three of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, two of forgery and two of using a false instrument.

The court heard Alemi had earned up to £1.3m in wages from the NHS after she sent the forged certificate to the General Medical Council (GMC) to register to practise in 1995.

She was also accused of sending a forged letter of verification, which the court heard had verify spelt as “varify” and referred to “six years medical trainee with satisfactory grade”.

‘Very grave’

Christopher Stables, prosecuting, said Alemi was believed to be 60, but had given three different dates of birth on documents.

University records showed Alemi, who was born in Iran, was stopped from re-enrolling at the university in New Zealand after failing exams.

She had claimed she had moved to New Zealand after she and her family were tortured.

The court was also told Alemi had been jailed for five years after being convicted of three fraud offences in 2018 in relation to the forging of the will of an 84-year-old which made her the beneficiary.

Addressing her, Judge Manley said there was “only one possible sentence and that will be a sentence of immediate custody of some substantial length”.

She said she had committed a “deliberate and wicked deception” against a number of health authorities, which had involved her working with “potentially very vulnerable people over a long period of time”.

She added that Alemi’s offending was “very grave”, but she also wanted to know “how it was this defendant was able to practise as long as she was, in so many positions”.

Following Alemi’s 2018 conviction, the GMC apologised for its “inadequate” checks in the 1990s and began an urgent check of about 3,000 foreign doctors working in the UK.

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