On 6th February 2015 former paediatrician Michael Salmon was convicted of two rapes and nine offences of indecent assault. On 12th February, he was sentenced
The offences were committed against young girls at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. There was no suggestion that Salmon acted with Jimmy Saville, who it is now known abused many children at the same hospital.
Salmon was acquitted of one rape and one indecent assault, as well as one offence of carrying out an illegal abortion.
The convictions relate to six victims, but police said more women had contacted them with allegations against Salmon since the start of the trial.
The offences were committed between 1973 and 1988 by the former doctor, now aged 79. The former doctor, now aged 80, committed the offences between 1973 and 1988. He had been struck off the medical register in 1991 for admitting three counts of indecent assault against young female patients.
He sexually assaulted victims by conducting unnecessary internal vaginal examinations and others by unnecessarily touching their breasts under the guise of appropriate medical examinations. The judge found that Salmon chose the more vulnerable of his child patients to abuse.
One victim, aged 16, was raped by Salmon on two separate occasions. One incident of rape involved Salmon taking a girl to his home (having told the girl he would take her to the hospital to assist with a termination). Salmon raped her, saying “one favour deserves another”, later dropping her off at a bus stop to make her way home. Two weeks later he contacted her, telling her that you had discovered that she had in fact been pregnant with twins and that she was still pregnant with one child. He manipulated her (suggesting she had had a back street abortion and therefor had no choice but to come to him again, in order to avoid her parents and the police finding out). He then raped her for a second time. Upon driving her home, Salmon told her that no one would believe her.
Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said he believed he was “bomb-proof” because no one would believe a child over him.
Salmon claimed the allegations were “sexual fantasies” made up by “gold diggers” and unreliable teenagers.
In a press statement, Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Thames and Chiltern said:
“Michael Salmon has been convicted today of offences which are particularly shocking due to the abuse of his position as a doctor taking advantage of the female patients in his care. His crimes were extremely traumatic for his victims who should have expected his support rather than this gross betrayal of their trust.
“Michael Salmon used his status to molest these vulnerable young girls and women who felt unable to complain as he was a doctor, and many of whom only bravely came forward after seeing other cases in the media. I hope they now feel that justice has been done.”
Salmon was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment. The sentencing remarks are available here (thanks to CrimeLine).
The judge accepted that Salmon was no longer a risk to children but noted the many aggravating features, including selecting the more vulnerable of his child patients to abuse, persuading the parents of the victims to allow them to enter the examination room alone, the period over which the offences were committed and the effect they had on the victims.
The judge said Salmon committed the offences with “conceited arrogance” for his own “sexual gratification”. It was also noted that the offending came to an end only upon Salmon’s arrest and then suspension from practice for sexual offending against patients in 1987.
The rape at Salmon’s home was, in the judge’s view, planned from the moment he met the girl. This constituted a significant aggravating factor.
The judge imposed a sentence of 18 years, placing the rapes into category 1A, structured in the following way:
a. Count 10 (rape) – 18 years’ imprisonment.
b. Count 8 (rape) – 14 years’ imprisonment.
c. All other counts (indecent assault) – 2 years’ imprisonment.
Whilst there may be an argument to say that the rape wasn’t a category 1A offence (on the basis that the category 2 factors present (vulnerability of the victims and severe psychological harm) were extreme in nature (see the Rape guideline for details), it is unlikely that the Court of Appeal would consider this sentence manifestly excessive.
We might have expected the sentence to be structured in a different way, marking the seriousness of each offence with a consecutive sentence, resulting in a reduction on the rape offences (for totality). However, the Court of Appeal would be concerned with the overall total and 18 years does not seem over the top for this very serious offending.
Taking a little over the starting point for a category 2A offence (below that selected by the judge), we might have expected 13 or 14 years for the rapes. Add to that figure sentences of 12 months for the other five indecent assaults (some of which were specimen counts) and one can see we are easily that 18 years does not seem manifestly excessive.