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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Jail for GP who took thousands of videos and images of female patients

Written by Henry Clare

A GP who secretly took thousands of videos and images of female patients during appointments was told he had breached their trust as he was jailed for 14 months.

One victim claimed that Dr Thair Altaii "will never know the true damage that he has caused to my life", while another said she felt "physically sick" when she considered what the pictures of her were used for.

A court heard how he took more than 19,000 pictures and videos "in the surgery environment", with some showing women "in various states of undress".

Altaii was caught out when a patient noticed two propped up mobile phones during an appointment and contacted police, prompting officers to examine his devices and find the material.

The 55-year-old, of White Rocks Grove, Whitburn, South Tyneside, had initially claimed that he had taken the images for his own assessment and training purposes.

Altaii, who was suspended from his practice in Sunderland when the allegations came to light, was convicted by a Newcastle Crown Court jury of three counts of voyeurism between 2008 and 2014 in relation to more than 300 pictures taken of two female patients.

Sentencing him to 14 months in jail on Tuesday, Judge Edward Bindloss said that the material had been taken "secretly and surreptitiously" and that planning had been involved in the setting up of the camera phones.

The court heard victim impact statements in which one of the two women claimed: "My self-esteem is at an all-time low and I am not the person that I used to be."

She added: "In the one place you think you should feel safe, I have suffered this violation at the hands of the person I most trust with my personal problems.

"I have never been a confident person and I do all I can to avoid being photographed or videoed by anybody, even my own family.

"It makes me feel physically sick to think what the images were used for."

The other victim said she "shuddered to think" about what the purpose of the taking of the images was, saying that she became "extremely distressed" as she learned of the amount of material that the doctor had stored.

In her statement, the victim said: "You should be able to trust your doctor with private matters as they are the people who make life-changing decisions on your behalf.

"I cannot express how broken I feel because of the actions of Dr Altaii."

The court heard how the defendant, who was suspended when the allegations first came to light, had moved to the UK from Iraq in 1998.

Jamie Hill, defending, told how the father of three will face a General Medical Council disciplinary hearing later this year, and has "lost his name and his reputation as a result of this and as a result of his behaviour".

Acknowledging his client's likely dismissal, Mr Hill said that Altaii and his family, including a wife and three daughters, have "suffered the most public of humiliations".

He added that there was "no evidence that anybody else had any access to these images".

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Northumbria Police / PA Wire.