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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Sex attack doctor jailed
Court
A psychiatrist has been jailed for 18 months for a sex attack on a patient during a hypnotherapy session.

Kolathur Unni, 56, was permitted to work despite a history of indecency towards women patients.

The psychiatrist, of Ash Grove, Palmers Green, north London, was unanimously convicted of indecent assault on a woman, known as Miss A, between January and June 1996.

He was acquitted of two further similar counts involving mother-of-two Miss B.

Kolathur Unni
Unni was featured on the The Cook Report

Unni was struck off by the General Medical Council (GMC) after his initial fall from grace.

However, six years later, after working as a shelf stacker, he was judged "fit to practice".

After just a year he had assaulted mother-of-one Miss A while supposedly treating her for depression caused by a relative's death.

He also told the woman she need not bother complaining as she was a mental patient and no-one would believe her.

The court heard her plight came to light after television's Cook Report investigated doctors like Unni, who had been struck off and then allowed to practice again.

The Carlton TV broadcast was seen by millions, including health chiefs at the South Essex Partnership Trust which runs the mental health unit at Basildon Hospital where he worked.

Previous conduct

Shocked to learn of his background, they first suspended him and then sacked him.

For legal reasons his past was kept from the jury of six men and six women during the trial.

But once the verdicts were in, Judge Leonard Gerber ordered the jurors should be made aware of his earlier conduct.

Looks of horror were exchanged by jurors as prosecution QC Patricia Lynch then detailed attacks he had carried out in New Zealand during the 80s.

The first involved a pregnant 28-year-old while another woman, aged 31, was also indecently assaulted.

Breach of trust

The barrister said the New Zealand authorities struck him off in 1988 in his absence as he had already returned to Britain and got a job at Welwyn Garden City's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

But when New Zealand health chiefs told the GMC of his behaviour, he was also struck off in this country.

After a couple of unsuccessful re-registration bids, he was finally reinstated in 1995 and was working again within weeks.

Passing sentence Judge Leonard Gerber said the crime was "a serious breach of the doctor-patient relationship".

He told Unni: "You should never be allowed to practice as a doctor in this country or anywhere again."

Judge Gerber said the case would be referred to the GMC's Professional Conduct Committee and called for guidelines to be issued on doctors who had been struck off for serious professional misconduct involving sexual incidents.


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