The man who posed as a doctor and saw dozens of patients for months at Middlemore Hospital was driven by a “bizarre compulsion to work as a doctor”, a court has heard.
Yuvaraj Krishnan, 31, was sentenced at the Manukau District Court this afternoon to three years and seven months’ jail.
Court-ordered reports show his two older siblings went to prestigious universities and he felt pressure to be successful to meet family expectations.
But Judge Nevin Dawson said this was a low cause.
“Your offending appears to be driven by a distorted sense of entitlement and a Walter Mitty view of your own life,” he told Krishnan.
Krishnan used bogus CVs, reference letters and forged practising certificates to get a job at Middlemore Hospital, where he saw 81 patients over a six-month period before another doctor raised the alarm.
He also filed false affidavits to the High Court claiming he was a doctor, and won an appeal for a discharge without conviction for an earlier traffic offence.
Judge Dawson said Krishnan threatened the integrity of New Zealand’s justice system to gain advantage for himself, and caused “potentially incalculable harm to health authorities” and patients.
“They should be able to rely on the health system of New Zealand and not have concerns they are treated by doctors who are bogus. This is a gross abuse of trust,” he said.
Krishnan wore a white shirt as he stood in the dock, twitching intermittently, during the hearing.
Defence lawyer Steve Cullen said Krishnan had been described by a psychiatrist as “fluid with the truth”, his offending driven by an underlying, “bizarre compulsion to want to work as a doctor” and possible undiagnosed bipolar and dissociative identity disorders.
“There’s something aberrant going on here,” he said, seeking discounts for his client who, he said, has been “crushed” by media exposure.
Police prosecutor Jazmine Cassidy said Krishnan’s mental health issues were purely suggestive, and a cultural report showed he grew up in a warm and loving household where he was deprived of nothing.
His work during the Covid-19 pandemic in a respiratory fellowship dealing with patients was a highly aggravating factor given he had no qualifications, she said.
Krishnan has himself admitted he spun “a large web of deceit”, she said.
He fooled a hospital and the High Court
Court documents show Krishnan pretended to be a medical student at the University of Auckland, attended classes and “went to great lengths to keep up his charade” before he was found out and trespassed in 2012.
He had been a legitimate first-year biomedical science student at the university but did not make it into medical school.
In 2013, he completed a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy and Histology in Australia and returned to New Zealand, where he worked as an immigration officer at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment between 2015 and 2016.
He then enrolled in a four-year medicine programme at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, but left after his third year.
In 2021, he pleaded guilty to careless driving and failing to stop in a moderate hit-and-run crash in Auckland.
When a District Court judge denied his application for a discharge without conviction, he appealed to the High Court, claiming he was a registered doctor. He used forged letters of support from the Medical Council of New Zealand and Auckland District Health Board (ADHB).
The High Court granted his appeal and discharged him without conviction.
In December 2021, he was shortlisted and interviewed by Middlemore Hospital for the role of research fellow in respiratory ahead of other applicants because he was the “strongest candidate on paper”, according to the court summary.
In his job application, he used a fake CV claiming he had a medical degree from Jagiellonian University, a Masters in Science from Sydney University, and had worked as medical officer at ADHB.
He “presented as a very strong applicant” during the interview and was hired in February 2022 on a salary of $104,080, on the condition that he would provide his annual practising certificate (APC) at a later date.
Doctors must be registered and hold a current APC to practise in New Zealand.
Krishnan forged two APCs - a first that “bore no likeness” to a legitimate APC, and a second by altering an ex-colleague’s certificate - and sent them to the hospital.
He worked as a research fellow at Middlemore Hospital for six months and saw 81 patients, conducting chest examinations, prescribing medicines and making referrals.
A fellow student from his Auckland University days recognised Krishnan’s name in a referral document and raised the alarm with the Medical Council.
When he was stood down in August, Krishnan expressed shock at the revelation and claimed it was a mistake.
Days after being stood down, he applied for a role as a dermatologist at NZ Skin Health in Howick using a fake CV claiming he had done a skin cancer course in the United States and worked as a dermatology research fellow at Botany Super Clinic.
He again interviewed “very well”, but a staffer making reference checks read about his Middlemore Hospital fallout in the news and he was not hired.
Krishnan had also applied for a research role at the Medical Insitute of New Zealand based at Wellington Hospital at the same time he applied to Middlemore using the same false CV, but was rejected by a staffer who felt his work and education record looked “odd”.