Fake psychiatrist did not contribute to death of patient, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 17:39 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 26 February 2020

Darren King drowned in the bath following a seizure in April 2017. Photo: Gavin King.

Darren King drowned in the bath following a seizure in April 2017. Photo: Gavin King.


A fake psychiatrist who practised for 22 years with no qualifications did not contribute to the accidental death of a patient who was under her care two years earlier, an inquest has heard.

Zholia Alemi worked as a psychiatrist for more than 20 years after faking her medical degree. Photo: Cumbria Police.Zholia Alemi worked as a psychiatrist for more than 20 years after faking her medical degree. Photo: Cumbria Police.

Darren King, 31, drowned in the bath after having an epileptic fit at his flat where he lived alone in Lowestoft.

He had a history of autism, epilepsy and learning difficulties and was pronounced dead on April 9 2017 after he was found by his mother.

Suffolk's senior coroner Nigel Parsley said that "one of a number of psychiatrists" who saw Mr King was the fraudulent Zholia Alemi.

Alemi was employed as a locum psychiatrist by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust between April 2014 and April 2015 and Mr King was one of her patients who received care in the community.

Suffolk Coroners Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETTSuffolk Coroners Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

He met her twice, with the first meeting in June 2014.

Alemi claimed she had a primary medical qualification when she first registered in the UK in 1995 and was allowed to practise for 22 years.

In reality, her claim to have a degree from the University of Auckland in New Zealand was fraudulent.

She was jailed for five years for fraud in 2018 after changing a patient's will to make herself a beneficiary.

Mr Parsley said that an expert witness examined Alemi's evidence and "he could not identify an act or omission that led directly to Darren's death in relation to Ms Alemi's treatment".

He said that Mr King, who received care in the community, had an "identified poor record for attending medical and social care meetings" but that a worsening of this "coincided with staff changes".

Mr King's last contact with his care co-ordinator from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was in June 2016, and he last saw his GP in September 2016.

"As a result of this lack of contact, there was no opportunity to review Darren's epilepsy treatment regime and no opportunity to effectively monitor his seizure history," said Mr Parsley.

"On a balance of probability basis, had opportunities to provide adequate monitoring and treatment relating to Darren's epilepsy been taken, then his death may have been prevented."

He concluded that Mr King's death was accidental following a seizure while in the bath.

The inquest heard that Mr King had been advised to take showers rather than to have a bath due to his epilepsy but was assessed as having the capacity to make some decisions.

Mr Parsley said that Mr King "did not like the way the shower felt".

"We heard this was due to his autism and the increased tactile sensations that this caused," he said.

He added that Mr King lived in a private home and structural changes such as removing the bath "couldn't be imposed on him".Mr Parsley ordered a report to prevent future deaths, adding: "I'm concerned that there was a lack of effective follow-up when a patient with learning difficulties disengaged from the service, especially one that was high risk such as Darren."

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