Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED July 29, 2003

Where the defendant was a psychiatrist who abused his position of trust to rape and indecently assault vulnerable women patients a total sentence of eight years was unduly lenient and would be quashed. A total sentence of ten years was appropriate.Application by the Attorney-General to refer, under s.36 Criminal Justice Act 1988, a total sentence of eight years' imprisonment following convictions for two rapes and ten indecent assaults on females imposed by HH Judge Hooton at Winchester Crown Court on 10 December 2002. The defendant ('D'), who was a psychiatrist specialising in psycho-therapy, worked between 1978 and 1988 for the South Eastern Regional Health Authority where he treated a number of particularly vulnerable women, either privately or as referrals from their GPs. During that period D indecently assaulted a number of the women patients and raped a student nurse twice. Some of the victims described how they found D physically repulsive but that he had a hold over them. One of the victims complained to her GP, D resigned and took up private practice in another area. D received sentences of six years for each rape, and a total sentence of 18 months for the indecent assaults, the sentences to run concurrently. The maximum sentence for indecent assault at that time was two years' imprisonment. Whilst in his new practice D indecently assaulted other vulnerable women and for those assaults received a total sentence of two years' imprisonment to run consecutively with the six years for the rape. Eventually one of his patients told her father who informed the police. The Attorney-General referred the sentences for the offences of rape and the sentences for the indecent assaults post dating the rapes as unduly lenient given that as a doctor D was in a position of trust.HELD: (1) Guidelines for sentences could be found in R v Millberry & Ors (2002) EWCA Crim 2891. The starting point for the rapes, given that there was such a serious breach of trust should have been no less than eight years' imprisonment because there were two offences. (2) The judge was right to impose a consecutive sentence for the indecent assaults that occurred following D's resignation. Again these were very serious breaches of trust against a number of women over a period of time and the sentence of two years was unduly lenient. At the very least a sentence of four years should have been imposed and ordered to run consecutively to the eight years for the rapes. (3) Taking into account the principle of double jeopardy a sentence of seven years would be substituted for each rape and sentences of four years substituted for the indecent assaults that occurred after D's resignation, giving a total sentence of ten years' imprisonment.Leave to refer granted. Application allowed.