A respected family doctor was yesterday convicted of sending his financial advisor ‘desperate’ messages during a five-year ‘vendetta’ – but was cleared of trying to hire a hitman to murder him.
Retired family GP David Crichton sent messages and made a phone call telling pensions expert Andrew Bolden that he would commit suicide if he did not reply.
A court heard Dr Crichton made a series of complaints after receiving what he believed was bad financial advice, causing him to lose £300,000 from his £1.8million NHS pension.
Prosecutors also alleged Dr Crichton, 64, attempted to solicit the murder of Mr Bolden, who works for top banking firm Brown Shipley, by entering his details on a Chechen mafia site on the dark web.
However, the doctor said he only put the details on the site, which he believed was fake, as a mental exercise to ‘clear his head’.
He was convicted of three counts of sending malicious communications and cleared of attempting to solicit murder. He denied all charges.
Fining the doctor £6,000 today for the offences, Judge Mr Justice James Dingemans said the doctor was a man ‘self obssessed in the extreme’.
The judge told him: ‘There were disputes between you and Brown Shipley, but there are independent reports vindicating the advice given.
‘You do not accept that and that is your constitutional right, but it’s apparent you became obsessed with the issue.
He added: ”Mr Bolden’s victim impact statement shows that what started off as a client complaint had spiralled out of control.
‘Mr Bolden said you have “laid a business dispute at my family’s door”. It also shows the shocking effect of finding out his name had been put on what is claimed to be a Chechen Mafia website.’
During the five-day trial at Winchester Crown Court, Hampshire, jurors heard Dr Crichton waged a ‘campaign’ of harassment against Brown Shipley and Mr Bolden after receiving what he believed to be bad money advice.
Prosecutor Simon Jones told the court: ‘In around 2012, Dr Crichton contacted Andrew Bolden for advice on his NHS pension.
‘Dr Crichton delayed the advice and he missed certain tax deadlines, incurring penalties. He suffered significant financial loss, which he attributed to the financial advice given.
‘The defendant was blaming Andrew Bolden for ruining his life.
‘Five years on from the advice, David Crichton sent Andrew Bolden a text to his work phone on February 4, 2017.
‘In the message he said, “I am contacting you out of desperation. I believe you are the only person who can help save my life.
‘ “I have no wish to cause you problems. I am looking to help my family. I am sorry to sound dramatic I may only have a few days now”.
‘Then on February 16, 2017, Andrew Bolden received a call while in his company’s Edinburgh office.
‘David Crichton said, “you don’t need to talk to me, just listen. You know why, because my life is at risk”.
‘Then there was a final text on March 3, 2017, from Dr Crichton to Andrew Bolden.
‘The defendant said, “I remain desperate to speak to you. Since you know my life is at risk, I can’t believe you are obstructing me in this”.
‘We say that all amounted to him threatening he would commit suicide and we submit there can be no other interpretation to those messages.
‘What the prosecution say was the defendant’s vendetta was getting out of control.’
The court heard Dr Crichton had accepted he had entered Mr Bolden’s details on a Chechen mafia website, but said he was ‘sure there was no risk’ to the financial advisor as he knew the site ‘was a scam’.
Prosecutors alleged he had intended for a hitman to accept the contract after Mr Bolden was placed on the website, but the doctor told jurors he had never paid the requested fee.
Opening the case, prosecutor Mr Jones said the ‘kill the bastard’ option on the website was priced at 4.25 Bitcoin, equivalent to £3,800 at the time.
Giving evidence during the trial, Dr Crichton said: ‘I was looking as a medical professional, as a guinea pig for a test to see if this would clear my head.
‘I do accept that I put his details in the website because it was this idea of throwing away a thought.
‘I’m a research doctor and I thought it would be good to research – and actually, it made me feel better.
‘I wanted to know if this was a good avenue to pursue to help people with suicidal thoughts.
‘First of all I thought this was a scam and secondly I didn’t pay any money, I was sure there was no risk to Andrew, I knew he was safe. I didn’t think I had solicited his murder, it’s totally ludicrous really and unbelievable.’
The doctor, of Bournemouth, Dorset, added: ‘I didn’t really think I was soliciting his murder, why would I want to murder someone I only wanted to speak to?’
Following the verdicts, prosecutor Mr Jones told the court he was applying for a restraining order to prevent Dr Crichton from continuing to contact Mr Bolden and Brown Shipley.