'Dentist of horror' Jacobus van Nierop jailed in France

Image source, AP
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Prosecutors said Jacobus van Nierop took "pleasure at causing pain"

A Dutchman dubbed the "dentist of horror" has been sentenced to eight years in jail in France for mutilating the mouths of some 120 patients.

Jacobus van Nierop, 51, "took pleasure" in causing horrific injuries to patients in the small central town of Chateau-Chinon, prosecutors said.

He was banned from practising dentistry and fined €10,500 (£8,140; $11,900).

Van Nierop fled to Canada when suspicions arose and strongly fought extradition to France in 2014.

The court in the central French town of Nevers heard that patients had suffered broken jaws, recurrent abscesses and septicaemia from van Nierop's work. He had drugged patients then mutilated them as they slept in his dentist's chair.

Prosecutor Lucile Jaillon-Bru said van Nierop had carried out "useless and painful procedures".

She said his aim had been to earn money through claiming on patients' medical insurance schemes and to take "pleasure at causing pain".

Image source, AFP
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Some 120 patients came together in the case against van Nierop

Reports from inside the courtroom on Tuesday said that van Nierop had admitted responsibility, saying he "wasn't interested in people" and could not remember his patients.

One 65-year-old victim said van Nierop had pulled out eight of her teeth in one sitting, telling judges she was "gushing blood for three days... and had no teeth for a year and a half".

Van Nierop appeared to show no emotion during the trial, replying mostly with "no comment" to any questions.

His defence argued he was suffering "psychological problems". One expert said Van Nierop's "narcissistic tendencies" had stripped him of any moral judgment but another said the defendant was "perfectly aware of what he was doing", AFP news agency reports.

'Larger than life'

Van Nierop was arrested in France in June 2013, after the number of his victims passed 100.

However, he fled the country before his trial was due to start in December that year.

He was tracked to a small town in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and arrested under an international warrant.

Van Nierop was many people's worst nightmare, the BBC's Hugh Schofield says.

Like many parts of rural France, Chateau-Chinon is badly served for medical provision, our correspondent says, adding that locals initially seemed delighted by the hard-working and smiley dentist, a larger-than-life character who witnesses said was rarely seen without his "big 4x4, a big dog and a big cigar".

But then the horror stories began. People said they had had teeth ripped out for no reason - they had been given heavy anaesthetic, then left with abscesses and infected gums.

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