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Bogus vet ordered to pay back £250k

A DOG breeder who was still on benefits when he earned a small fortune posing as a vet has been told to pay back almost £250,000.

Leonard French did hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of trade while pretending to be an expert in animal care and veterinary medicines, including selling two dogs to a West Pinchbeck woman. He sold products not licensed in the UK and even vaccinated a dog – unaware he was being filmed by an undercover reporter.

Now he has been ordered to surrender £246,968 in assets after being taken to court under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

The 69-year-old was jailed for 12 months last August after he was exposed by the BBC who secretly filmed him dispending veterinary medicines to an undercover reporter. The footage was shown to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and charges were duly brought against the fraudster.

French, of Tattershall Bridge, admitted a charge of ‘holding himself out to be a vet’ between March 2003 and August 2006. He also admitted six charges of illegally supplying veterinary products and four of attempting to import them between the same dates.

He further admitted three counts of possessing medicinal products without authority and three of placing them on the market without authorisation.

He also pleaded guilty to two offences of possessing criminal property and one offence of administering veterinary medicinal products.

Making the POCA order at Lincoln Crown Court last week, Judge John Machin ruled that French pay up within nine months or face an extra two years in prison which would be automatically added to his sentence.

Janice Bennett, of West Pinchbeck, bought two Border Terrier puppies – a bitch and a dog – from French in autumn 2005 at a total cost of £550.

She was told that all vaccinations, worm and flea treatments had been carried out but after getting them home she found that the bitch was crawling with fleas and had a serious case of worms.

At the hearing in August when French was jailed, Magistrates heard that French's £400,000 home, where he kept up to 120 lurcher dogs, was raided by police and officers from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in October 2004, but no charges were brought.