A 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.
Manish Shah, who will serve at least 15 years behind bars, cited the cases of Angelina Jolie and Jade Goody to persuade patients aged between 15 and 39 to undergo unnecessary intimate examinations for his own sexual gratification, the Old Bailey heard.
Shah, 50, of Romford, east London, who claimed he had been practising “defensive medicine”, was found guilty of 25 sexual offences against six victims at Mawney Medical Centre between 2009 and 2013 last autumn.
Your behaviour was not only sexual but was driven by your desire to control and on occasions humiliate womenJudge Anne Molyneux QC
At an earlier trial in 2018, he was convicted of offences relating to 18 other women, taking the total number of offences to 90 relating to 24 women.
Fifteen of the victims sat in a packed Court One of the Old Bailey on Friday as Shah was sentenced by Judge Anne Molyneux QC to three life sentences with a minimum term of 15 years 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 practise 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 Crown Prosecution Service wishes to commend those women, who by bravely giving evidence convinced the jury of Dr Shah's guiltPaul Goddard, Crown Prosecution Service
The court heard that Shah picked on patients’ vulnerability, because of their age or family history of cancer.
He 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.
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 was told.
He flouted NHS guidelines on giving healthy women aged under 25 smear tests, and routine breast examinations on women under 50, which were said to cause more harm than good, prosecutor Kate Bex QC told jurors.
He also breached guidelines on the use of chaperones during intimate examinations.
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.”
Alison Millar, of Leigh Day, who represented one of the victims, welcomed the sentence, saying: “It reflects the enormity and gravity of his crimes, the scale of them and the seriousness of the impact.”
On the effect on her client, the lawyer said: “It’s had a huge impact on her. It’s affected her ability to trust male health professionals, question her faith in medical professions.”
Ms Millar said Shah was “incredibly cruel and callous” and although the scale of his crimes was “unusual”, it was not unique.
She added: “These cases do have a knock-on effect on the wider confidence in healthcare professionals. There are questions to be asked (about) how Shah was able to manipulate patients, parents other members of his practice, other people, for quite so long.
“It is the end of the road for my client in terms of this criminal investigation. I will be advising her on other forms of redress for her to consider.
“I think there needs to be reflection now and learning on how this could have gone on for quite so long and whether there were red flags, warning signs, that could be looked into in terms of preventing further cases of this nature in the future.”
I would like any victim of sexual assault to come forward and be confident coming forward and speaking to us because we will listen to you, support you and work extremely hard to get you justiceDetective Superintendent Tara McGovern
Detective Superintendent Tara McGovern, of Scotland Yard, said: “A case like this is extremely rare and, when the victim came forward and reported to the local surgery about her concerns, they immediately took action. They contacted the police and he was suspended.”
On why it had taken so long for the victims to get justice, she said: “It has been a really complex case. We have spoken to over 130 victims. We have taken dozens of statements. We have sought advice from medical experts and all this has taken time.
“What we really are thankful for is the victims who have not only demonstrated courage and dignity but have also demonstrated patience in supporting us in bringing this man to trial.
“We will work with NHS England to review everything that happened in the lead-up and whether or not there were any signs, (whether) we could have acted sooner.”
She added: “I would like any victim of sexual assault to come forward and be confident coming forward and speaking to us because we will listen to you, support you and work extremely hard to get you justice.”