Doctor had cannabis conviction
A psychiatrist who was convicted of drug smuggling in England and who went on to work here for four years has been found guilty of of professional misconduct.
Dr Chidozie Emmanuel Onovo (43), originally from Nigeria, was neither present nor represented at a Medical Council Fitness to Practise committee hearing today.
He worked in several hospitals in the Munster region between 2004 and 2008 and lived at an address in Bantry, Co Cork.
The hearing heard evidence that he had been convicted in September 1998 at Southwark Crown Court, London, of attempting to smuggle 4.5kg of cannabis through Heathrow airport and had been sentenced to two years in prison.
It heard that when he applied for temporary registration with the Medical Council here in January 2003, he was asked whether he had any criminal convictions, and he answered "No".
He applied for and was granted full registration with the council in 2008.
On his CV he stated he had worked as a psychiatrist in the National Specialist Hospital, Enugu State, Nigeria, between December 1997 and June 1999, and at Park Lane General Hospital, Enugu State, from July 1999 to August 2002.
He had in fact been in prison in England or under the supervision of the British authorities during this period.
It was not until he applied for a permanent New Zealand work visa in 2010 that his background was investigated.
Onovo had secured work in Christchurch, New Zealand as a psychiatrist and went there in January 2009 on a temporary work visa.
In January 2010 he applied for a full work visa and resubmitted his original documentation, purporting to show he had worked in Nigeria when in fact he had been in prison.
Checks carried out by New Zealand immigration authorities revealed the 1998 conviction, and Onovo was charged in September 2010 with offences in breach of immigration legislation. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison in New Zealand.
He is no longer in prison but could not be located by the council, despite attempts to contact him in England, Nigeria and New Zealand.
The committee found proven as fact the claims that he had been convicted of drug smuggling, that he had been convicted of breaking New Zealand immigration law, that he had lied in 2003 to the council about his criminal past, that he had given false statements about his work record on his CV and that he had lied again in 2008 to the council about his background.
The behaviour amounted to “disgraceful of dishonourable behaviour” and he was found guilty of professional misconduct on three counts.
A decision on sanctions will be made at a later date by the council.