Leading heart surgeon spared jail for molesting two women

A world-renowned heart surgeon has been spared jail for molesting two women after a judge said it may be in the public interest for him to operate again.

Mohamed Amrani, 54, was found guilty of twice groping a woman's breasts through her clothes at the Harefield Hospital in west London between 2003 and 2004.

A decade later, in 2014, he smacked another woman's bottom at Bupa's private Cromwell Hospital in Kensington.

The consultant has performed a string of life-saving operations around the world and hit the headlines in 2007 when he performed the UK's first double heart valve replacement using keyhole surgery.

Judge Anne Molyneux described him as an "outstandingly good heart surgeon" as she sentenced him to six months imprisonment, suspended for a year, at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

She told Amrani: "You have saved lives, you have done work others were not willing to do, you have shown commitment to the NHS, you have given time to work for charity."

The court heard Amrani, of Harrow in west London, has been suspended since 2015, and now faces disciplinary action from his professional body, the GMC, where he could be struck off.

But his barrister, Stephen Vullo QC, said Amrani has been offered a job in Morocco, where GMC restrictions do not apply, adding he hoped he would receive a suspension with the prospect of returning to work in the UK.

The judge said "the public interest may well be in favour of your operating again", as she concluded a suspended sentence could be imposed.

Amrani stood trial over accusations from five women between 2001 and 2014.

He denied all of the allegations, but last month a jury found him guilty of two indecent assaults and a sexual assault on two different women.

The court heard how the first had complained to the hospital about being indecently assaulted and was allegedly told "just ignore him, he does it to everyone".

Her husband described it as "a pretty devastating event" in her life.

He told the court she came home and was "very, very upset", adding: "My wife told me she had been groped and I understood that to be touching her over her clothing in a sexual manner."

The judge described the attacks as "workplace bullying of a sexual nature", adding: "This was an abuse of power arising from the trust placed in you by the hospital and by those who worked with you. You had been given the power because of the trust."

The court heard that when Amrani smacked his second victim on the bottom in an operating theatre she turned around to slap his face.

She told jurors: "He looked surprised. He said 'would you really hit me?' I said 'yes I would'."

Judge Molyneux told Amrani: "This was a sexual assault. What the incident demonstrates is your sense of entitlement and your instinct to rely on your power to do as you pleased."

The woman said in a statement: "I tried to put the whole incident behind me, but in time I realised Mr Amrani's behaviour towards colleagues was not isolated."

Prosecutor Peter Clement QC suggested Amrani had "abused his position".

"What is plain is that this defendant held a position which brought with it not only a high seniority, but a high degree of responsibility and on one view offended in the belief that by virtue of his position his offending would not be reported, or if reported, his accusers would not be believed," he added.

Amrani received concurrent four-month sentences for two counts of indecent assault and a consecutive two-month jail term for sexual assault. The six-month prison sentence was suspended for a year.

Amrani was acquitted of four further counts of indecent assault, two of assault by penetration and one of sexual assault.

After deliberating for 23 hours, jurors were discharged, having failed to reach a verdict on a charge of rape, and neither the complainant or prosecutors chose to seek a retrial. A not guilty verdict was entered.

Mr Vullo said Amrani was an "exceptional person with a flaw", adding: "Where somebody has extraordinary, if not unique, skills of course the public interest may be more in favour of allowing that person to work again."