A Fake Surgeon


The police are currently looking for a man who stole the identity of a British Doctor and practised in New South Wales for a decade. There is a historical precedent in the form of a man who spent five decades working in British and Australian hospitals under assumed names. Known to history as Andrew John Gibson, he was an international conman, bigamist and Jack the Ripper suspect who apparently left England just after the most horrific, and perhaps last of the Ripper murders.

In Australia, he amassed convictions for forgery, fraud and signing a medical certificate without being registered. Aged approximately 28 in 1895, he had bigamously married twice and used at least three aliases. He then went to America and Canada, where he reached seven marriages, one of them whilst in San Francisco jail for fraud. Wanted by the American authorities for bigamy, forgery, obtaining money under false pretences and violating parole, he fled to England then South Africa and Australia. In 1912 he was prosecuted for pretending to be a surgeon, with eight aliases listed, and extradited to South Africa to face fraud charges.

After serving time in Durban jail and somehow escaping from a life sentence, he was arrested in Bournemouth for posing as an Australian migration agent and sentenced to seven years. In 1938 he was convicted in Sydney of forging a probate certificate on his daughter’s will. Back in England he took on the identity of an Australian doctor, Henry Darling, and practised as a locum at Stoke on Trent hospital. After the death of a patient in 1940 he was convicted of manslaughter. Released after a decade in prison, in his eighties, and still calling himself Dr. Darling he took a medical job at Sydney hospital. He married for the last time, using the name of his daughter’s dead husband, and died in Brisbane in 1952.

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