R -v- Jonathan Dean

Crown CourtSentencing Remarks

In Cambridge Crown Court

5 April 2024

Sentencing remarks of His Honour Judge Grey




Jonathan Dean


This document is my note used to deliver my sentencing remarks at the hearing on 5 April 2024. It is not a transcript. There may be some variation in the precise words used, although the final sentence is recorded correctly. If any party requires a transcript for a guarantee of 100% accuracy, they should apply to the court in the normal manner.

Jonathan Dean. You are 32 years of age. You were 26 when you committed the earliest of these offences.

You fall to be sentenced for nine counts of theft; one count of possession of a controlled drug of Class A and one count of possession of a controlled drug of Class C. You pleaded at the start of your trial. I will give you 10% credit.

I deal with ancillary matters at the outset. I order the forfeiture and destruction of exhibits KAW1, 3, 11 and 12; EJ 02 and 10; and AC/02; in short, various quantities of needles, medicines, and assorted medical items seized from your home address.

The victim surcharge order will be drawn up by the court.

In terms of the circumstances, those are detailed in the trial opening note found at doc O12 on the digital file; I have also been greatly assisted by sentencing notes prepared by Ms Farrelly KC for the Crown and Ms Khan and Ms Tai for the defence. I am particularly grateful to Mr O’Donnell for stepping in at the very last moment to enable this hearing to go ahead in the last minute absence of prosecution counsel who had been instructed to represent the Crown today.

You are a qualified doctor, an anaesthetist. In December 2018 you were working as a trainee anaesthetist at Whipps Cross Hospital.

As such you of course had access to a variety of drugs. On your own account, you have suffered from severe depression and anxiety over the years and you chose to self-medicate with alcohol and also by using the various drugs that you had access to. Obviously, those drugs were not yours – whenever you chose to take drugs out of NHS premises to use them for your own purposes that was theft. It was, as you have acknowledged in recent documents, extremely unwise. There is support and treatment available for doctors who are struggling with stress and addiction issues, as you have also acknowledged. You chose not to take it. That poor decision making may have been in part because of your own life experiences and personal circumstances, but you were well into adulthood; you are plainly a highly intelligent man; and you knew what you were doing was wrong.

For all that, if this court today was dealing with a relatively simple case of a doctor with mental health problems stealing drugs from his employer to self-medicate, then although you would still have committed serious offences, my decision today could be tempered by a great deal of sympathy. But that is not all that we are dealing with.

On 14 December 2018, you stole relatively small quantities of cyclizine; ondansetron; propofol; midazolam; and morphine. Those thefts are Counts 2-6 respectively on the indictment. Each of those is an anaesthetic drugs. You stole them not simply to use one or more of them on yourself; you stole them pursuant to a plan you had made with a young woman with whom you were having a sexual relationship, that plan being that you would use those drugs to anaesthetise her before having sex with her.

I accept that you were not the sole author of the plan to use drugs in this way. But you were the qualified doctor. You were the person with the professional obligations, the access to the drugs, and in a position of trust.

After your belated admissions to the various theft and drug possession charges against you, the prosecution took what in my mind was the absolutely correct decision not to proceed against you in relation to what occurred between you and the other party. Importantly, at no point did the prosecution suggest that you had done anything without her consent.

What, if anything, eventually did take place between you and the other party is therefore not relevant and I disregard it. But I absolutely take into account your motivation, in whole or in part, for your theft of those five drugs on 14 December 2018, and your intentions as to the use you would put them to. You took those drugs in order to use them, in a grossly inappropriate manner, in an inherently unsafe setting, for sexual purposes. In short, you stole drugs to get your sexual kicks. That is entirely plain from the messages you were sending at the time and it makes those five counts extremely serious indeed.

In consequence of a report to the police by your intended sexual partner the police commenced an investigation. They retrieved drugs that you had left at her residence. Your home was searched on 28 January 2019. The police found more drugs that you had stolen from Whipps Cross Hospital, cyclizine, ondansetron and morphine. Counts 7, 8 and 9 reflect your thefts of those drugs from Whipps Cross on or before 28 January 2019.

Two of the drugs you stole are controlled drugs and therefore subject to greater restrictions than the others. Midazolam, one of the anaesthetic drugs you took with you on 14 December 2018, is a controlled drug of Class C. Morphine, found at your home address on 28 January 2019, is a controlled drug of Class A. Counts 10 and 11, deal with your illegal possession of those drugs on those dates.

Following the initial police investigation, you were excluded from the hospital site. You were in due course allowed to resume administrative duties only. Your swipe card access to clinical areas of the hospital, including the operating theatres, was to be withdrawn. I am told that while the Hospital Trust completed the relevant forms for this to be done, they were not actioned. Your swipe card remained active. That was in my view a lamentable failure. When dealing with someone who had stolen drugs, including controlled drugs, with such disturbing intentions, the hospital should and easily could have ensured you were not able to get anywhere near such drugs in the future.

You abused that oversight by stealing propofol in the early part of 2023. On 23 February last year, it was noted by theatre managers at Whipps Cross that quantities of propofol were being stolen. The Hospital could not initially determine who had stolen them. On 16 March 2023, three entire boxes of that drug went missing, comprising a total of 12 ampoules. Further checks revealed that you were one of the staff members whose swipe cards had been used at the relevant time. Your swipe card was finally deactivated and it was then discovered that you tried multiple times on 20 March 2023 to obtain access to the same theatre from where you had taken the drugs on 16 March. Your home address was again searched and a sack containing sharps and needles was seized.

I will accept that you were stealing those drugs in 2023 to use them as self-medication. There is no evidence to the contrary. You had resorted to stealing drugs again, in an ongoing breach of trust, despite the fact that you had been accessing mental health support for some time by this stage, despite the fact that you knew how much trouble you were already in. Those thefts are the subject of Count 12. They are of course aggravated by the fact that you were by that time already on court bail for all of the earlier charges you were facing.

As I have already stated, you only entered your guilty pleas at the start of your trial. I do not add to your sentence because of that. But the credit that I can give you; the reduction in your sentence; is so much less than would have been available to you had you had the common sense and the courage to admit your guilt at an earlier stage.

Dealing with your antecedents, you were a man of good character before these offences.

Turning to the sentencing guidelines, I start with the guideline relating to theft. The first thing to acknowledge is that these are very unusual cases of theft, particularly the thefts in Counts 2-6 given the intention behind them. This type of offending will not have been the focus of the those who drafted the guidelines.

Undoubtedly, your culpability was high in relation to all of the theft counts. Your decision, as a qualified doctor to steal drugs from your employer represents a very serious breach of the trust both the Hospital and the wider public place in doctors. As the current edition of Good Medical Practice, in effect the doctors’ code of conduct, makes clear: “You must make sure that your conduct justifies patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in your profession.” Yours did not. You knew that at the time you were making these choices.

Determining where harm falls is more difficult. The financial value of these drugs has not been quantified but in any event will not have been huge, even in total.

I do consider that the stolen drugs would have been considered of substantial value to their true owner, the NHS Trust that operates Whipps Cross hospital. I accept it is not suggested that any patient suffered harm because there was a shortage of drugs caused by your thieving, but drugs are inherently significant and valuable substances for the healthcare bodies who prescribe and administer them. There was, in respect of Counts 2-6, a risk of injury given your intentions with those drugs. I also accept the Crown’s contention that there would be a loss of confidence caused by such an egregious breach of trust by a clinical employee of the Trust. On balance, I consider that in respect of Counts 2-6, the Crown’s contention that these thefts fall within Category 3 is correct. In relation to count 7, 8, 9 and 12, I consider that they would fall on the cusp of Categories 3 and 4.

On Counts 2-6, therefore, there would be a starting point of 12 months imprisonment with a range of 26 weeks to 3 years.

In relation to the possession of drugs counts, while I take into account what is said on that guideline, the gravamen of this offending lies within the theft counts.

Of course, of particular importance, I remind myself of and apply the totality guideline. I will not simply add up the appropriate sentences on each count but I will impose a total sentence to reflect your overall criminality.
I have listened with care to everything said on your behalf by Ms Khan today. I have read with great care the psychiatric report of Dr Boolaky; the pre-sentence reports; the impressive character references provided in support of you by several other clinicians; and your letter to me. I take all of those documents fully into account. It is clear to me that you had significant personal difficulties. It is also plain, though, that you had significant personal advantages. You knew full well where to go for help. You did not do so.

To qualify and even just to begin practice as a doctor is an impressive achievement. The public asks a lot of the medical profession. But to be a doctor is also a privilege. A huge amount of trust is placed in you.

As I have already indicated, if this case was purely about the sad descent into drug abuse of a talented but troubled young man, then while you would still have breached the trust placed in you, the court could and would have had a great deal of sympathy. But when you stole the drugs in counts 2-6, that was not about your mental ill health. They were about you wanting to chemically enhanced sex and you being in a position of dominance and power. To quote from a message you sent to your intended sexual partner: “Could get as much propofol as needed and morphine on top of that. Could put a cannula in you and do whatever I wanted. Feel like being unconscious while I do whatever I want to you?” Another message read “Could have done anything to you. Fine line between you not breathing and you being unconscious. Good thing I’m a descent anaesthetist. Could fuck you senseless”.

Those messages display a considerable arrogance and a sense in which you were expected to enjoy playing god with those drugs. There is a great more to being a good doctor than technical skill. You were not a decent anaesthetist.

These offences are in my judgment so serious that only a sentence of imprisonment can be justified. I am urged, then, to suspend that sentence. I take the view that I cannot properly bring the sentence properly so low as to enable me to do so.

Even if I could have done so, I would not have suspended. I have reminded myself of the relevant section in the Imposition Guideline, particularly the table setting out the factors which indicate that it may be appropriate to suspend a custodial sentence and those which indicate that it would not be appropriate to suspend.
You have significant personal mitigation – whether it can be said to be strong, particularly given the offending being repeated in 2023, may be a moot point. There is, I accept, a good prospect of rehabilitation. I do not accept that immediate imprisonment will result in significant harm to others.

On the other side of the coin, I accept that you do not now present a risk to the public. I consider, indeed hope, that it is vanishingly unlikely that you will ever be considered fit to practise medicine in this country again. You do NOT have a history of poor compliance with court orders, save for offending while on bail in 2023. But ultimately, this is a case where only an immediate prison sentence can be justified. The court has before it a qualified doctor who stole drugs, including a controlled drug of Class A, from his employer; for the specific purpose of using those drugs, with another, in a non-clinical and therefore inherently unsafe setting, with another, for sexual kicks. Any doctor who commits criminal offences in such a fashion must appreciate that they are grave offences, striking at the heart of the trust that is placed in their profession. I would be failing in my public duty if I do not mark such reprehensible conduct with a significant, immediate custodial sentence.

The shortest total sentence that I can impose is one of 25 months’ immediate imprisonment. The appropriate sentence after trial would have been 28 months.

That is made up of 25 months on counts 2-6 concurrent on each.

Counts 7,8 and 9 – 10 months concurrent.

Counts 10 – No separate penalty.

Count 11 – 3 months concurrent.

Count 12 – 12 months concurrent.

I stress that however I had structured the sentences across each individual count, the total term would have been the same.