Source: Brisbane Times – www.brisbanetimes.com.au
An Australian who was previously convicted for falsely passing himself off as a psychiatrist in NSW has been found guilty of three counts of fraud in London.
Vitomir Zepinic was found to have lied about his past in order to gain work in Britain. He said the hearing had been influenced by a “conspiracy” to discredit him as a witness in the war crimes trial of former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic.
Zepinic, a former deputy interior minister in the government of Karadzic, was once called a ”hero” in The Australian for his eyewitness testimony of the Bosnian civil war.
But in a shabby municipal courthouse in north London his face fell as a jury forewoman pronounced him guilty three times over on Thursday.
During the trial Zepinic had been charismatic and sometimes shared jokes with the prosecution before the day’s proceedings and explained to them the arrogance of the Australian cricket team.
But as the trial wore on he became increasingly despondent. He apologised frequently to the court for his tiredness, saying he had not been sleeping. He sat often with his head in his hands, massaging his forehead.
When the prosecution questioned him directly about his past he reacted with frustration, at one point thumping his hand on the witness box.
The jury found Zepinic guilty on one count of defrauding Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL), where he took work as a senior lecturer in psychiatry in October 2009.Zepinic had previously been convicted in Burwood Local Court in 2008 on six counts of falsely describing himself as a registered medical practitioner. He was released on a good behavior bond.
During his job application, QMUL had asked Zepinic if he had any criminal convictions. He answered ”no” – knowing that his conviction would surely disqualify him from work in the field.
Five months later, QMUL was made aware of Zepinic’s past. He resigned after the university confronted him. He had earned more than £29,000 ($49,516) while teaching at the school.
Even after his employment ended with QMUL, Zepinic continued to mislead the university by telling it he had access to documents that proved he had won the Burwood case against him. No such documents were ever produced.
After Zepinic left QMUL he made a series of applications to the National Health Service (NHS) as a psychologist. The jury found he had lied about his past in all of them.
In court, Zepinic claimed he held a master’s degree and PhD in medical science at the University of Belgrade. He also said he had two undergraduate degrees from the University of Sarajevo in psychology and medical science.
In his job applications to the NHS, Zepinic’s undergraduate medical qualification was not mentioned. It was replaced by a master’s degree in medicine at Sydney University.
After the jury delivered its verdict, Recorder Butcher, QC, said he was not considering a custodial sentence.
Zepinic’s case was adjourned until September 13, when he will be sentenced.