Bogus Dawlish dentist swindled his elderly patients
A bogus dentist who swindled pensioners out of thousands of pounds for home made dentures may escape having to repay any money because he is seriously ill.
Stephen Sickelmore had no formal qualifications but posed as a dentist and charged up to £1,400 for false teeth which were often ugly, ill fitting and painful to wear. He is serving a suspended sentence after admitting the fraud last year but is also facing proceedings to seize his assets under the proceeds of crime act.
Sickelmore, 53, operated his business from a filthy utility room in a rented house in Old Gatehouse Road, in Dawlish, South Devon, where he lived with his wife.
Trading standards officers estimated he made at least £200,000 from his bogus trade, in which he visited old people in their homes all over Devon and Cornwall.
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The couple, who were said to be separated at the time of his sentence, now live together again at a home they own in Wales, which is their only financial asset.
Sickelmore, formerly of Dawlish, admitted operating as an unqualified dentist and two counts of using unfair business practices. He was jailed for nine months, suspended for two years by Judge Graham Cottle at Exeter Crown Court in January last year. He was ordered to do 180 hours unpaid community work but this was waived after he first became ill last year.
He is due to face confiscation proceedings in May but the Exeter Crown Court was told that he is now too unwell to give details of his finances to his defence team.
Mr Rupert Taylor, defending on Thursday, said: "We had a conference with him on January 3 and he appeared to my untutored eye to be very unwell. We attempted to take instructions but he became distressed and we formed the view it was impossible to do so.
"We therefore cannot serve any further response and our view is he will probably be unable to give evidence. He has suffered from further fits and further brain tumours have been discovered."
Mr Taylor said Sickelmore's estranged wife currently provides him with accommodation in Wales but they hope to move back to South Devon but cannot do so because there is a court order preventing them selling their current home.
Mr Tom Bradnock, prosecuting, said they would need to see up-to-date medical reports before making any decision about the future of the case.
Judge Phillip Wassall ordered the confiscation hearing to remain in the list for May when it will be reviewed.