A “remorseless charlatan” has lost his bid for less jail time after posing as a Melbourne gynaecologist and IVF doctor after forging his medical qualifications.
63 year old Raffaele Di Paolo was jailed by the County Court last year for 51 criminal convictions, most of which he admitted to, after defrauding unsuspecting patients out of more than $385,000 over 10 years.
One woman fell pregnant after her first consultation with Di Paolo but lost the baby.
Di Paolo had given her drops to take and injected a substance into her buttocks while she was pregnant.
But Di Paolo, who has a narcissistic personality disorder, has appealed against his 15 jury convictions – including procuring sexual penetration by fraud, indecent assault and assault – challenging the admissibility of certain evidence and the credibility of some complainants.
His charges related to a range of predatory behaviours, including inserting medical probes into patients’ vaginas, with them believing he was a qualified doctor.
Di Paolo also extracted semen from a patient’s testicles without anaesthetic, administered homoeopathic treatments intravenously, undertook a biopsy and conducted examinations without gloves.
County Court Judge Bill Stuart said di Paolo’s capacity for deception was profound and even extended to fooling respected IVF specialists.
“You deliberately deceived your victims, you breached the trust they had in you, you encouraged false hope,” Judge Stuart said.
The fraudster also challenged his nine-and-a-half year prison sentence, telling the Judge it was manifestly excessive and that his moral culpability should be reduced as he was suffering a mental illness at the time.
But on Friday, Court of Appeal judges Phillip Priest, Richard Niall and Lex Lasry refused Di Paolo’s appeals, upholding the jury and sentencing judge’s decisions.
They said he had a personality disorder, not a mental illness, and also noted the gravity of his offending was high and his sentence fell well within available ranges.
“In (Di Paolo’s) case, a level of grandiosity may be consistent with a narcissistic personality disorder but it did not in any way diminish the applicant’s moral culpability,” they said.
In truth, he had never studied medicine.
Di Paolo forged his qualifications in Italy during the 1990s and was convicted there for falsely passing himself off as a medical practitioner, obstetrician and gynaecologist.
Between 2005 and 2015, he practised out of rooms in Brighton and then St Kilda Road, he sold a more “natural” approach to IVF and told patients he had left Monash IVF or Melbourne IVF after falling out with other doctors.
His patients gave him “substantial sums of money” to help them conceive, on the basis he practice a “more natural and successful” form of IVF.
Di Paolo also argued in his appeal the sentencing judge made a mistake by registering him as a sex offender for life, as his crimes were not motivated by sexual gratification.
However that claim was also rejected on Friday, the Court of Appeal judges agreeing Di Paolo posed a risk to “the sexual safety of the community seeking fertility treatment“.