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9 September 2013, 17:07
A family doctor who sexually assaulted and took intimate pictures of women and children at his GP practice has been jailed for six years.
Barend Delport, 55, downloaded thousands of pornographic images and took more than 800 photographs of female patients at his surgery in Swanley, Kent, over a period of 10 years for his own sexual gratification, and "cloaked the reasons with spurious claims of medical justification'', Maidstone Crown Court was told.
Delport told his victims, who ranged in age from 18 months to a woman in her 60s, that he was photographing them for training purposes or to show medical students, the court heard.
He was arrested after the mother of a girl made a complaint to police in May last year following a visit to the surgery.
Prosecutor Anthony Haycroft said Delport claimed to be a dermatologist when taking intimate pictures of a child suffering from a skin complaint. He also referred to another child as "his little girlfriend'' and intimately photographed a woman who had gone to him with a stomach complaint.
Delport also took photographs of women telling them he was building a case against the midwives at Darent Valley Hospital who he falsely claimed were failing to care for patients properly, Mr Haycroft said.
The court was told that a lot of the patients allowed themselves to be photographed because they trusted Delport as their doctor.
The defendant, of Summervale Road, Tunbridge Wells, who lived in Eynsford Rise, Eynsford, at the time of his arrest was found to have 500,000 images on his computer, the court was told.
Of those, more than 5,500 were pornographic, Mr Haycroft said.
He continued: "He downloaded indecent images from the internet, some of which he had manipulated and altered.``
The court heard that 842 of those images were pictures of patients he had taken himself.
Photographic consent forms were also seized where patients had agreed to being photographed during their examinations.
Senior health professionals consulted about the images agreed that they served no clinical purpose.
Mr Haycroft said: "The mothers of the child victims all feel totally and understandably abused. They have feelings of guilt and they have lost trust in doctors completely.``
The court heard Delport admitted 26 offences, including four of indecent assaults on adults and three indecent assaults on children.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing indecent images of children, five of making indecent images of children and 12 of taking indecent images of children.
Delport admitted to two further charges of indecent assault today after another victim came forward following his last court hearing, and asked for them to be taken into consideration.
Michael Haynes, representing Delport, said the defendant was remorseful and recognised the damage that he had done and the problems he had.
The court was told Delport's shame at what he had done was "overwhelming'' and that he had let downhis wife, friends, patients and the church.
Mr Haynes said since his arrest Delport, who has separated from his wife, had sought treatment for his "addiction to pornography''.
Judge Philip Statman said that the medical profession was still viewed in the highest regard.
He said: "We have a very fine health service, the envy of the world and it's based on trust and on respect.
"The role of general practitioner is fundamental to ensuring the health and well-being of our community. We trust our GPs with our health and even more significantly we trust them with the health of our children.``
He went on: "What you did, for entirely spurious reasons, was to use your position as a trusted GP to touch and photograph your victims, giving as amongst others as a reason, a desire to help with clinical further education, to report allegations of bad practice at a particular hospital and to lecture with, or to show specialists on referral.
"In my judgment, that was a sham.''
He said it was difficult to imagine "a graver breach of trust than had occurred in this case''.
A statement from Delport's surgery said he had abused his position of trust and betrayed the confidence his patients had in him.
It said: "We would like to thank all the patients who helped to bring Dr Delport to justice and offer our deepest sympathies for his shocking crimes.''
Dr James Thallon, Kent and Medway medical director for NHS England, said: "As a GP myself and someone who works for NHS England ensuring that the quality of care provided by GP practices in Kent and Medway is as good as it possibly can be, I can say we are all devastated by this doctor's behaviour. It was totally unacceptable.
"He deceived patients, colleagues and the practice to commit these crimes.
"I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to patients who have been hurt and distressed by him, and to thank all those who came forward and who have helped to bring him to justice today.''