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Father who sued NHS for £1.5m because they left him unable to walk is caught unloading van

Darren Dommett  caught on camera carrying a flatpack
Darren Dommett caught on camera carrying a flatpack Image credit:

A father-of-two who sued the NHS after waiting for treatment claiming he now had to use a wheelchair was caught on camera carrying heavy furniture from a lorry outside his home in Grimsby.

Darren Dommett received over £1.5million in compensation from the health service over medical errors which left him unable to walk.

The 49-year-old said the NHS took so long to treat a nerve condition on his back he now has to rely on a walking frame or a wheelchair and requires daily care.

But his claims were squashed when he was filmed unloading a furniture van – without any assistance!

The fraudster confessed to his scam in front of Judge Nigel Lickley QC at the High Court this week, he was sentenced to 29 weeks in prison and fined at least £85,000 in costs and repayments of wrongly paid compensation which will be paid back into the NHS.

He is also likely to pay lawyer’s bills of the contempt of the court case on top of the hefty fine.

In 2013 Dommett suffered a genuine compressed nerve in his back, called cauda equine syndrome, and went to see a doctor.

But the A&E staff at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, in Grimsby, missed the symptoms and it was days until Darren was correctly diagnosed.

The condition can paralyse patients if it is not treated quickly.

The Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation agreed failings on their behalf, however they were surprised at how high Dommett’s claim was.

He wanted at least £1.5million!

Dommett said the NHS had left him no choice but to use a walking frame or a wheelchair to move around the house and he was stuck in front of the TV.

To prove his point he filmed himself trying to stand and struggling to walk up the stairs.

However, in 2017 the NHS arranged hidden cameras which caught Dommett unloading three packs of flatpack furniture from a van, freely stepping in and out of his Land Rover and taking his wife shopping.

NHS barrister James Todd QC told the judge: 'For most of this period of surveillance, the defendant is either walking or standing...there is no sign of fatigue or a change in the defendant's gait.

'The defendant is seen on his driveway taking delivery of some cardboard packages that appear to be the components of a flatpack furniture set which includes a glass-top table.

'The defendant carries three of the packages, one by one, from the rear of a van into his house. He carries what appears to be the heaviest of the parcels.'

Dommett was also caught out on social media after he uploaded family photos showing him without a wheelchair or a walking frame basking in the sun in Spain.

Todd said Dommett made a ‘good recovery’ and by 2017 he started to exaggerate or lie about his symptoms so he could put weight behind his fabricated claim.

'When he made those statements and representations, he was not suffering from significant pain and disability,' said Todd.

'He had made a very good recovery from his cauda equina syndrome.

'He could sit, stand, walk and move freely, normally and for long periods - and without the need for support or the use of a walking stick.

'He had absolutely no need for a wheelchair.'

Dommett’s barrister, Andrew Locke, said his client’s compensation claim was justified to start with and as time went by he suffered from additional medical problems and he needed to use a wheelchair in 2017 after being diagnosed with cauda equine syndrome.

'It is common ground that Mr Dommett's claim was initially a genuine one with genuine and very distressing injuries,' Locke the judge.

'The element of fabrication came later. Although there was a deliberate effort to mislead the experts and the courts, it was not sophisticated.' 

Judge Lickley will decide at a later date if Darren Dommett will need to cover the NHS’s five-figure costs of having him sent to prison.