A Sydney dentist and local councillor has been found guilty of assaulting elderly nursing home patients by undertaking unnecessary major dental work on them without consent.
Andrew Istephan, a Liberal councillor and former deputy mayor of Hurstville, was convicted on five counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Wednesday over major dental work he undertook in 2011 on patients under the Commonwealth-funded Chronic Disease Dental Scheme.
After deliberating for over a week, the jury in the Downing Centre District Court could not reach a decision on seven additional counts.
It means Istephan may now face a retrial on those counts, though Fairfax Media understands his barrister may seek to have them dropped.
During the course of a seven-week trial in August and September, the jury heard that within minutes of meeting his elderly patients for the first time at their Leichhardt and Haberfield nursing homes, Istephan began grinding down their teeth as part of procedures they had not consented to and, in some cases, did not need.
The 34-year-old dentist was contracted by a company called Elderlink, which provided dental and other services to elderly people.
Under the scheme, a contracting dentist must consult with a GP and obtain consent from the patient, or their next of kin, before commencing any dental work.
Of the 12 people on the indictment, only three were capable of giving consent themselves, Crown Prosecutor Gary Corr said during the trial. The prosecution alleged that the three women did not consent to having their teeth filed down for crowns.
In the case of the other nine, Mr Corr said guardians and others were not consulted about dental work being performed on their relatives.
“For the majority of the patients, the preparation for the crowns occurred on the first time they saw him,” he said.
Istephan told the court that he believed he had consent from nursing home staff to undertake the procedures.
The dentist showed little emotion as the verdicts were handed down.
He was allowed to remain on bail ahead of a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions about whether or not to pursue the other charges, but the judge ordered him to hand in his passport and stay away from major points of international travel.
Istephan’s position on Hurstville council may now be in jeopardy.
Most councils in NSW require councillors to stand down if they are convicted of a criminal offence.
He will return to court for sentencing on October 25.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/dentist-andrew-istephan-guilty-of-assaulting-elderly-patients-20131002-2urvp.html#ixzz2gYKOV6JH
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