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26 April 2016

Dentist who took 'pleasure at causing pain' jailed 8 years

NEVERS (France) • A French court yesterday sentenced a Dutch dentist to eight years in jail for deliberately mangling his patients' mouths in a case which saw him dubbed "the dentist of horror".

Jacobus Marinus van Nierop, 51, went on trial in March for ripping out healthy teeth and leaving dozens of patients with injuries including broken jaws, recurrent abscesses and septicaemia in the small French town of Chateau-Chinon.

The court in the central town of Nevers also banned him from practising as a dentist and fined him €10,500 (S$16,000).

Prosecutor Lucile Jaillon-Bru said Van Nierop had carried out "useless and painful procedures" on about 100 patients with the aim of having them reimbursed by medical insurance. He took "pleasure at causing pain" to his patients, she said.

Van Nierop, who called himself Mark, was initially welcomed by locals into an area which was lacking in medical services.

Giving evidence in court, a neighbour recalled the arrival of a smiley, larger-than-life character, with a "big 4x4, a big dog, a big cigar".

But soon, the authorities were starting to question his accounting practices, and patients were starting to compare notes on his work.

Ms Sylviane Boulesteix, 65, who saw Van Nierop in 2012 to have braces fitted, told the court: "He gave me seven or eight injections, and pulled out eight teeth in one go. I was gushing blood for three days."

The trial heard conflicting expert opinion about Van Nierop's psychological state.

One psychiatrist found he had "narcissistic tendencies" and was therefore incapable of making a moral judgment of his own actions.

But another found he was "perfectly aware of what he was doing".

He was arrested in 2013, but fled while awaiting trial. He was later tracked down to a town in Canada, arrested and extradited first to the Netherlands and then to France.