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NHS manager locked up for £1m scam went back to work for health service after release from prison

Posted on 5/03/2018 by

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After Deborah Hancox's release she went back to work for the NHS - leaving her new colleagues horrified when they learned the truth about her past

An NHS manager who was locked up for a £1m con went back to work for the health service after being freed.

Deborah Hancox, 48, was jailed with her partner John Leigh, 58, for a sophisticated IT fraud which started in 2003.

The couple, from Middleton, set up bogus firms to sell goods back to the NHS at inflated prices.

It was ‘a well-orchestrated and meticulously planned conspiracy’, detectives later said.

When their scam was exposed after several years, they fled abroad for five more years but were hauled back to the UK to face justice in 2014.

The pair, who had both worked for the NHS, admitted fraud. Leigh was jailed for 44 months and Hancox was handed a two-year sentence.

But after her release she went back to work for the NHS - leaving her new colleagues horrified when they learned the truth about her past.

It is understood she was employed as an ‘Effective Use of Resources Officer’ after being taken on via a recruitment agency.

A source told the M.E.N’s sister title the Mirror she was in the job for almost a year, using the surname Mohsin, before being rumbled. It is believed she was asked to leave last month.

She was one of 350 staff employed with Greater Manchester Shared Services (GMSS), which gives support and advice to clinical commissioners across the region. It has offices in both Oldham and Salford.

The source said: “I am appalled that someone with Hancox’s history who served time in prison for stealing from the NHS could get a job at the NHS again through an agency.

“What she did was disgusting but the fact she’s managed to get back in is horrifying.”

Hancox refused to comment when the Mirror approached both her and Leigh outside her terraced home in Middleton last week.

As she clambered behind the wheel of her red BMW she said: “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go”, before driving off, with Leigh in the passenger seat.

In 2014 a court heard the couple pocketed £300,000 by supplying the NHS with goods at inflated prices.

Items were marked up by as much as much 60 per cent and their firms turned over at least £1million.

They splashed out on a luxury Jaguar, a holiday cottage in the Lake District and an apartment in Dubai.

When the scam was discovered in 2008 they fled to northern Cyprus, which had no extradition treaty with the UK, where they were able to evade justice.

But they were arrested during a visit to southern half of the island in 2013 and brought back.

Manchester crown court was told Leigh worked for the NHS in purchasing.

He was responsible for buying computers and office equipment for various departments. Hancox also worked as an NHS manager. They both worked for the former North West Strategic Health Authority.

The court heard how after they fled the country, Hancox’s frail mother died of a heart attack on a plane destined for the island, where she had hoped to visit her then-fugitive daughter.

Despite this Hancox skipped her mother’s funeral and remained at large until her arrest.

After they were sentenced in September 2014, Sgt Laura Walters, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “This couple were involved in an well-orchestrated and meticulously planned conspiracy to defraud the NHS out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“This was not a get-rich-quick scheme. This was a sustained criminal enterprise stretching over seven years. Seven years is a long time to see the error of your ways but these individuals showed no remorse for their actions.”

Sgt Walters added at the time of sentencing: “It is also clear they used the proceeds of their criminal activity to live a lavish lifestyle. They had a home in the Lake District and they also invested in property in the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus.”

“I also want to stress this is by no means a victimless crime. It is the NHS they scammed out of out thousands of pounds - money which the NHS badly needs for the treatment of people with genuine illness. Every penny they plundered is money that was diverted away from someone in desperate need of medical treatment.

In 2014, Leigh pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering. Hancox had admitted the fraud but Judge Michael Leeming ruled Leigh was the driving force behind it and handed her a lesser two-year sentence. Both were ordered to serve at least half in custody.

In October 2016 Hancox and Leigh were ordered to sell their home in Dubai and hand the proceeds to the NHS.

A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing at Manchester Crown Court was told the bolt hole in the Middle East was on the market for a ‘significantly reduced price’.

Prosecutors were hoping to claw back almost £190,000 from the couple’s assets.

Neither the NHS or GMSS were prepared to discuss Hancox last week.

A spokeswoman for GMSS said the organisation was ‘not able to comment’ due to ‘data protection’.

She said: “Due to data protection we can not confirm or deny employment. We are not able to comment.”

Source: ManchesterEveningNews