Jailed: Three life sentences for disgraced Romford GP who sexually assaulted 23 girls and women
PUBLISHED: 11:52 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:02 07 February 2020
A Romford GP was branded a "master of deception" as he was handed three life sentences after being convicted of 90 sex offences against 24 former female patients.
Dr Manish Shah of Brunel Close was handed the jail term at the Old Bailey today (Friday, February 7) with a minimum term of 15 years.
Fifteen of the victims sat in a packed Court One as Shah was sentenced by Judge Anne Molyneux QC to three life sentences plus further jail terms to run concurrently.
The judge said Shah had deployed a "mixture of flattery and fear" and used celebrity cases to carry out the sex assaults.
Quoting one of his victims, the judge said: "You made up stories which got into heads and caused panic".
The judge went on: "You were a master of deception and you abused your position of power. This was a horrible abuse of trust and caused incalculable harm.
"The details show a pattern of behaviour over five years.
"Your behaviour was not only sexual but was driven by your desire to control and on occasions humiliate women."
Earlier, the youngest victim described being left "anxious, fearful and shaking" at the prospect of visiting the doctor after being abused by Shah.
Speaking in court, the woman who was 15 at the time, said she felt different about men and worried about being seen as a "sex object".
Summarising other victim impact statements, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC said the "lack of trust" created by Shah meant many of the women refused to see male doctors and that it had affected their relationships.
In mitigation, Zoe Johnson QC said: "Manish Shah will never again be able to practice medicine.
"The opportunity to offend and the ability to offend only arose because of Manish Shah's profession.
"There is not one centile of information to suggest he would offend within the community.
"Stripped of that profession he is a rather weak man.
"It goes without saying that all of these women feel grossly abused, humiliated, and that the trust that they placed in Manish Shah has been so dreadfully exploited.
"He deeply regrets hurting them and cannot say sorry enough."
The court has heard how Shah picked on patients' vulnerability, because of their age or family history of cancer.
Over five years, between May 2009 and June 2013, he assaulted six patients of the Mawney Medical Centre in St Edwards Way.
Shah denied wrongdoing, claiming he had been practising "defensive medicine".
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But following an Old Bailey trial, he was found guilty on Tuesday, December 10 of nine counts of sexual assault and 16 counts of sexual assault by penetration relating to eight women.
The jury was told Shah has already been convicted of similar allegations relating to 17 other women at an earlier trial which concluded in December 2018.
Prosecutor Kate Bex QC told jurors that Shah played on the women's fear of cancer to consent to examinations, but without being properly informed.
Some of the victims were particularly vulnerable because of their young age or because of their family history of the disease.
Ms Bex said: "Fear is an incredible motivator and few health concerns are scarier than cancer.
"Dr Shah exploited that and used it for his own personal gratification."
Shah brought up the news story about Hollywood star Jolie having a preventative mastectomy as he asked a woman if she would like him to examine her breasts.
He also mentioned Goody to another woman, saying an examination was in her best interests, it was claimed.
The disgraced doctor would give patients hugs and kisses, singling some out as "special" and his "star", saying he had a soft spot for them.
He would not always wear gloves and left one patient entirely naked on an examination table, jurors heard.
Shah attempted to justify an examination in medical notes by suggesting it was "requested", the court previously heard.
He also breached guidelines on the use of chaperones during intimate examinations.
Shah denied wrongdoing and his barrister Zoe Johnson QC told jurors he was a "cautious, insecure, perhaps at times incompetent GP".
The fact of Shah's previous conviction did not necessarily make for a case of "once a sex offender always a sex offender", Ms Johnson argued.
Shah's offending first came to light in July 2013 when four women made separate allegations to the medical practice that Dr Shah had sexually assaulted them.
These allegations were then passed on to the police who began a lengthy investigation led by officers from Central Specialist Crime.
NHS England carried out a scoping exercise and 139 women were spoken to by police.
Shah was first arrested in September 2013 in relation to the initial four allegations and further allegations were subsequently investigated.
The 50-year-old was found not guilty of one count of sexual assault and three counts of assault by penetration.
Paul Goddard, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Manish Shah was a trusted family doctor, but he took advantage of that trust to abuse his female patients and then falsified their medical notes to try to justify intimate medical examinations that should not have taken place.
"The Crown Prosecution Service wishes to commend those women, who by bravely giving evidence convinced the jury of Dr Shah's guilt."