Keele biomedic accused of research fraud

January 28, 2000

An internationally acclaimed biomedical engineer and his personal assistant defrauded the University of Keele and a health authority of thousands of pounds earmarked for research projects, a court was told this week.

Peter Rolfe and Carol Benmakroha set up a false bank account to aid the plot, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

The alleged fraud started after Rolfe moved to head postgraduate research departments at Keele University and the North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust.

Just under Pounds 13,000 left in a trust fund set up for research work at his previous job at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, was transferred to the new "business" account, it was alleged. Payments came in from overseas medical institutions before the account closed in 1997, it was alleged.

Rolfe and Benmakroha both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the University of Keele, Oxfordshire Health Authority and the North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust by setting up the account and inducing payments.

Rolfe also denies three separate charges of theft of near infrared spectroscopy machines. Benmakroha, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, has pleaded not guilty to another charge of theft of approximately Pounds 3,000. The case is expected to last six weeks.

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