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Inquest told fake psychiatrist gave ‘reasonable care’ to patient who drowned

PUBLISHED: 15:16 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:16 24 February 2020

Suffolk Coroners Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Suffolk Coroners Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Archant

A fake psychiatrist who practised for 22 years with no qualification gave “reasonable care” to a patient who drowned in the bath after having an epileptic fit, an inquest has heard.

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.

Darren King, 31, who had a history of autism, epilepsy and learning difficulties, lived alone in a flat in Lowestoft.

His mother Jane King, who became concerned about him after she was unable to contact him by phone, found him lifeless in his bath.

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.

He was pronounced dead by paramedics on April 9, 2017, Monday's hearing at The Coroner's Court in Ipswich was told.

Almost three years earlier, in June 2014, he had his first meeting with 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.

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.

It was subsequently discovered that she had also lied about her medical qualifications and she was struck off.

Suffolk's senior coroner Nigel Parsley said: "I can't consider Alemi to be a witness of truth."

She was not present at the inquest, and the court got a qualified psychiatrist to review her written evidence.

Dr Jonathan Bird, who was asked to be an independent expert witness, was asked for his opinion of the care given by Alemi having read the evidence in the case.

"I felt that Ms Alemi's management and treatment of Mr King was very reasonable," he said.

"She seemed to be concerned about things which she should have been concerned about - his mental health, epilepsy and capacity.

"She involved others in the team.

"She wasn't a clinician who just made decisions and told people to get on with it or made decisions without thinking about what others thought.

"It seems to me during what was a relatively short period of time when she was a locum and bussed into a series of cases that were fairly complex, she used her experience in learning difficulties and management of disability in a reasonable way."

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

His mother said he wanted a flat so he could "be more independent" and he had previously held a job as a school caretaker.

But she said he could not always identify when he had had a seizure.

The inquest, listed for five days, continues.

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