AN “arrogant” senior doctor at Whiston Hospital who repeatedly groped nurses – including one instance while at the bedside of a dying patient – has avoided jail.

Dr Vijay Mahendran was convicted of seven offences of sexual assault on two nurses.

Judge Denis Watson, QC, at Liverpool Crown Court said the case involved repeated incidents over a period of time, adding:

“You were in a position of authority which you completely betrayed and abused.

“Despite your clinical ability you have a deeply flawed sense of what is acceptable sexual conduct at work.”

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The judge said that Mahendran’s course certificates “show a different side to that on display to the jury,” but that the side that landed him in court was “arrogant, which says that rules which you regard as inconvenient or unnecessary don’t apply to you and you are someone who can be dismissive of the views of others when they don’t coincide with yours.”

The judge added: “There is a real split in your personality. To those who you respect you can be kind and considerate and for those you have no respect you are utterly dismissive and treat them as worthless.”

He added: “You took advantage of the fact that as a doctor your position is one where you were highly regarded and respected by everyone and you abused that position as a senior doctor at your hospital.”

Judge Watson told Mahrendran, who showed no emotion during the trial or sentencing hearing, that both victims had been profoundly affected.

The 53-year-old has two previous convictions for common assault and battery, one involving rowing with his then wife and while bending her backwards over the bathroom sink holding a pair of scissors to her stomach and threatening to kill her.

He received a conditional discharge for that offence in 2007 and was fined £2,000 in 2014 for hitting a young child, which resulted in facial bruising.

The court heard Mahrendran is likely to be struck off by the General Medical Council.

After hearing that he was shared parental responsibilities for his two young daughters and is regarded by the probation service as representing a low risk of re-offending, the judge said that the offences were so serious there had to be a custodial sentence but he would suspend it.

He imposed a 12 month term suspended for 18 months and ordered him to carry out 150 hours unpaid work and 60 days rehabilitation activities.

He has to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.

Christopher Stables, prosecuting, told how six of the offences involved one nurse, who had been subjected to dozens of similar incidents. The other offence involved another nurse whose buttocks he slapped and made an offensive remark.

Mr Stables said: “The prosecution says that this was as much about power as it was about sexual gratification. He was quite a senior doctor, and they were nurses.” 

He described the circumstances of the earliest offence as “really quite shocking”.

The nurse and colleagues were dealing with a cardiac arrest victim, who was unlikely to survive.

She brought the immediate family to a cubicle and stood by the patient’s head while the position was being explained.

Mr Stables said: “Whilst this was taking place, and in the cubicle area, the defendant put his hand on to her buttocks. He kept it there, and he squeezed her buttocks. In that situation, as you can imagine, there was very little she felt she could do.”

One of the nursing sisters saw what was happening and “dragged” him out of the cubicle and “gave him what for”.

The victim finally went to police and was asked how many incidents there had been.

She estimated probably 50 over the previous five years and described him as “touchy-feely”.

Other offences involved him grabbing and squeezing her bottom, telling her “Your lips are dead juicy; I’d love to suck on them”. One other offence saw him grab her buttocks and say to her “You’ve got a firm arse”. 

The offence involving the other victim happened when she was bending down at a cupboard and Mahendran walked behind her and slapped her buttocks.

A chest drain was being inserted in a patient and as part of the learning process she asked if she could feel the relevant area of the patient’s rib cage. To this the doctor replied with an indecent remark.

Jonathan Duffy, defending, who produced many references, said the doctor still denies the offences but respected the jury’s verdicts: “He understands whatever happened he was guilty at the very least of a terrible error of judgement which has had catastrophic consequences for him and for the two victims.

“He understands how they feel and apologises. It will have catastrophic consequences for his vocation. He will almost inevitable lose his job and probably be struck off.”