A fake gynaecologist who lied about his qualifications and fleeced patients of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a decade has a profound capacity for deception, a Melbourne judge says.
Raffaele Di Paolo, 61, has pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of 51 offences of procuring sexual penetration by fraud, assault, indecent assault and obtaining or trying to obtain property by deception.
He wrongly passed himself off as a medical practitioner and fertility specialist in Melbourne between 2005 and 2015, but the lies date back decades to his work at a clinic in Italy.
The Victorian County Court was told on Thursday that Di Paolo had been provided with forged qualifications to show he was a medical practitioner, an obstetrician and a gynaecologist amid a crackdown on corruption in Italy’s medical system in the 1990s.
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Raffaele Di Paolo (pictured this week) has pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of 51 offences
‘Your capacity for deception is profound,’ Judge Bill Stuart (pictured) told Di Paolo
‘These documents were apparently made available to you, according to your barrister, in order to shield the clinic … and probably yourself,’ Judge Bill Stuart told Di Paolo during sentencing.
Di Paolo was eventually found guilty and fined by a Italian court of falsely passing himself off as a doctor.
After returning to Australia, Di Paolo used the same forged documents to show he was qualified in Italy, also saying he had a science degree from Melbourne’s Monash University.
Raffaele Di Paolo (picture) is expected to be sentenced on Friday
‘Your capacity for deception is profound,’ Judge Stuart said.
‘There is no doubt … that you do have wide experience and skills in this area. It is how you presented yourself which is critical.’
Di Paolo is being sentenced in relation to 30 victims, made up of women he treated and their partners.
He told his victims he had worked at the Melbourne-based Monash IVF fertility clinic before turning to natural therapies.
In fact, Di Paolo tried but failed to join Monash IVF before registering his own company.
He injected women with homeopathic substances, took blood but never labelled it and in some cases got patients’ partners to assist him conduct ultrasounds.
Prosecutors said he fleeced his victims of more than $385,000 but Di Paolo’s lawyers contest some of that sum.
Victims described the fake doctor as a ‘charlatan, con-man and predator’ who inflicted intense emotional, physical and financial damage.
His crimes were uncovered by health authorities including the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and then police.
The 61-year-old was found guilty by a jury of some charges in March before later pleading guilty to others.
In character references tendered to the court, his brother blamed the pair’s father, saying he’d insisted Di Paolo lie and tell people he’d been accepted into medical school after year 12.
‘He was severely affected, psychologically, by my father’s unrealistic expectations,’ Daniel Di Paolo said in a statement.
Judge Stuart is expected to finish sentencing Di Paolo on Friday.
Raffaele Di Paolo (pictured left ) is being sentenced in relation to 30 victims
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