It’s not been a great few months for doctors and the criminal law. On 26th November 2014, Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh became the latest addition on the list of doctors-that-the-GMC-will-strike-off when he was sentenced to 5 years for seven offences of voyeurism, six of making indecent images of children and one of possession of extreme pornography.
Dr Yeoh (who we are told that is a world expert on hearing loss) filmed people without their knowledge in toilets from January 2011 until he was arrested earlier this year.
We are told that he “used pen drives and watches to film at numerous locations across the country, including the Portland Hospital in central London, medical facilities in Exeter, Sutton, south London and Thames Ditton in Surrey“, although he did sometimes film on trains (and presumably other public places) as well.
He was caught when one of his camera fell off where he had put it. It seems that this was traced back to him as he had been caught on the camera turning it on.
So, what do we make of it?
First off, the BBC wasn’t entirely clear in their reporting. In the report it is said that Dr Yeoh received “the “substantial” jail term and three years on licence“. This presumably means an Extended Sentence of 8 years, with a 5 year sentence and 3 years on licence (we looked at what this means yesterday).
But in looking at the 5 year custody element, we turn to the Sentencing Guidelines.
The more serious offence is the child pornography ones. These are at page 76 of the Guidelines. We would note that this is an area that used to be very well covered by the Oliver guidelines. The new ones here are far less useful, but that’s progress for you.
We would note here that this is a case of actually making indecent images (which is not often the case with these sorts of offences, given the way that it is defined), which is more serious than possession. We don’t know the form that the images took, but the fact that it was in the context of voyeurism means that we have a good idea.
Looking at the grid, this case falls in to ‘Production – Category C’. The starting point is 18 months, with a range of 1-3 years.
The aggravating feature is the breach of trust and the number of cases. This would put it, tentatively, at the 2-2½year mark, probably at 2 years given the likely nature of the images.
There was a plea, probably at the earliest opportunity, which would give a sentence here of about 1½ years.
This is at page 143. On a strict application, this is not ‘raised harm’, but is certainly ‘raised culpability’ given the planning, recording and breach of trust. It feels that it should be raised harm, because of the fact that this was done at a hospital, but this is probably covered by the ‘breach of trust’ in the culpability part.
So, that would be Category 2, starting at a Community Order, with a range of up to six months. We would put it right at the top of that, so six months before credit for a plea. It has to be remembered that the maximum sentence is 2 years.
Does this mean that the sentence is manifestly excessive? No. Here, you have to look at all the offending together which, we would think, certainly makes it more serious. Whether or not it justifies a sentence of 5 years with full credit is a bit unclear. We would say that the Judge is a very good one who certainly knows his stuff. So, whilst there may be an appeal, we would be surprised if he got it completely wrong.
One thing to note is that the Extended Sentence only applies to the child pornography offences. So, whilst it might make more sense to have consecutive sentences, as you can’t attach an extended licence to the voyeurism offence, this can cause huge problems.
We don’t know anything about the extreme image, but it is unlikely to have added much, if anything, to the sentence.
Another reason to see the sentencing remarks would be to see why the Judge found him to be dangerous. This is often obvious, but is not necessarily in this case. Dr Yeoh was said to be “a high risk to the public“, and it would be useful to know more about why this conclusion was reached.
This is an interesting case which was a very difficult sentencing exercise. We would certainly like to the see the Sentencing Remarks to see why the Judge came to the conclusion that he did. It may well be that there is an appeal, which should also give us some more details, even if it is unsuccessful.