Northern Ireland

Hugh McGoldrick: Crossgar GP's jail term for faking drug trials suspended

Dr Hugh McGoldrick Image copyright Justin Kernoghan
Image caption Dr Hugh McGoldrick admitted two charges of falsifying drug trials on patients with sleeping disorders at an earlier hearing

A GP who falsified clinical drug trials has won his appeal against immediate imprisonment after senior judges ruled his jail term should be suspended.

In April, Dr Hugh McGoldrick, from Crossgar Road East in Crossgar, County Down, admitted falsifying drug trials on patients with sleeping disorders.

Last week, the 59-year-old was sentenced to nine months in prison, but took his case to the Court of Appeal.

Senior judges have now ruled his jail term should be suspended for two years.

However, the £10,000 fine that was imposed on him by Downpatrick Crown Court for making up results from tests on an insomnia drug is to remain in place.

On Thursday, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said the suspension was due to the impact on McGoldrick of having criminal proceedings hanging over him for almost eight years.

"Because of the delay, and only because of the delay, we consider we should interfere with the sentence," Sir Declan said.

The offences took place at the McGoldrick's Pound Lane practice in Downpatrick in County Down during 2007 and 2008.

His lawyers told the appeal court that the trial judge had failed to take into account a seven-and-a-half year delay in the case as a mitigating factor.

His barrister referred to McGoldrick's otherwise unblemished career and raised concerns about his health due to being kept behind bars.

"Two weeks in prison for this man is a very considerable jolt to his well-being," the barrister added.

The judges held that the offences merited immediate custody.

"The breach of trust here has the potential to undermine not just the validity of the trial but public confidence in the efficacy of such investigations," the Sir Declan said.

Although he said there was a need for an element of deterrence in the sentence, Sir Declan added that there was a requirement for cases be dealt with quickly.

"This case has hung over this man for a period of some seven-and-a-half years," he said.

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