Psychiatrist found guilty of misconduct


A psychiatrist convicted of drug smuggling in England, who went on to work in Ireland for four years, has been found guilty 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 yesterday. He worked in several hospitals in Munster between 2004 and 2008 and lived 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.

Criminal convictions

It also heard that when he applied for temporary registration with the Medical Council here in January 2003, he was asked if he had any criminal convictions, and he answered “No”. He applied for and was granted full registration with the council in 2008.

On his curriculum vitae, he said he had been working as a psychiatrist in hospitals in Enugu state, Nigeria, between December 1997 and August 2002. He had in fact been in prison in England or under the supervision of the British authorities during the period.

It was not until he applied for a permanent work visa in New Zealand in 2010 that his claims were investigated.

Dr Onovo had secured work in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a psychiatrist and went there in January 2009 on a temporary work visa.

Immigration checks

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 services uncovered the 1998 conviction and he 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 he could not be located by the Medical Council despite attempts to contact him in England, Nigeria and New Zealand.

The committee found his behaviour amounted to “disgraceful or dishonourable behaviour” and found him guilty of three counts of professional misconduct. A decision on sanctions will be made later.