Doctor likened to Benny Hill jailed for groping 15 patients
A doctor has been jailed for 10 and a half years for sexually assaulting 15 patients over a period of more than 20 years, under the guise of medical examinations, at a practice in Surrey.
Former GP Alan Tutin, 71, groped women and girls who had booked appointments for a range of minor illnesses, including a sore throat, a mole, water retention and for the pill.
Tutin gave one 22-year-old patient a breast examination in which he “squeezed them as if he was weighing them” when she had only attended because of warts on her feet.
He also groped a 12-year-old girl who was unaccompanied because her mother had died a few months earlier – she was only seeking treatment for a cold.
Jailing him at the Old Bailey on Friday, Judge Nigel Peters QC said: “There cannot be a more serious abuse of trust that these courts have to deal with than that of a doctor and a patient.”
The court heard that colleagues of Tutin at the practice had been concerned when it emerged he had been downloading pornography and using sex chatlines during surgery hours.
The doctor was accused of molesting 25 females as young as nine years old for his own sexual gratification during his career at the Merrow Park Practice in Guildford.
The father-of-four, now of Crittenden Road, near Tonbridge, Kent, denied indecent assaults between 1981 and 2004, saying the complainants had misinterpreted him in light of negative publicity.
A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for 42 hours to find Tutin guilty on 15 counts of indecent assault against 15 women, some of whom were teenagers at the time.
Tutin was found not guilty on six counts of indecent assault and one of assault by penetration, and was acquitted of a further count on the directions of the judge mid-way through the trial.
Jurors were discharged on December 14 last year after they could not decide on a further five counts of indecent assault, including the charges relating to the nine-year-old girl.
Following a retrial at Blackfriars Crown Court, he was acquitted of three charges.
In a series of statements, Tutin’s victims described feeling “dirty” after he touched them and stupid for not stopping him or making an immediate complaint.
One woman, who was 19 when Tutin groped her said: “I was just becoming independent and starting to progress into adulthood – if I had been a few years older I would have been able to challenge him.”
The trial heard how Tutin joined the Guildford surgery in 1980, where his wife Angela was also a partner.
Having taken over as senior partner and running the financial side of the business, he “wielded a lot of influence”, prosecutor Sally O’Neill QC said.
Jurors heard how Tutin touched one woman’s breasts with both hands, fondling and squeezing them in what she described as a “really immature Benny Hill way as though he was feeling a couple of melons”.
The woman, then in her 20s, said she felt “confused” and the GP gave no explanation why he was doing it, jurors heard.
At the time of the offences there was a “general disinclination to complain or make a fuss” and a level of trust that “doctor knows best”, Ms O’Neill said.
The court heard there were criminal allegations of sexual abuse in 1999, resulting in two trials, none of which involved any of the complainants nor resulted in any “adverse findings”.
The General Medical Council (GMC) also became involved and there was a Fitness to Practise hearing in 2001, which did include some of the women in this case, Ms O’Neill said.
Police and the GMC were alerted, and although it did not result in a prosecution or disciplinary action, the defendant was sent a letter warning about the need to have a chaperone present during examinations of female patients, jurors heard.
The defendant stopped practising the following year, in November 2004.
The court heard how other women came forward and the defendant was arrested in January 2006.
There was no prosecution then but there was a GMC Fitness to Practise hearing in 2008 and 2009, at which some of the current complainants gave evidence.
It ended in a guilty finding in relation to assaults on five women and Tutin being struck off the medical register.
The criminal investigation was reopened in 2013 and letters were sent to thousands of former patients at the practice, the court heard.
Louise Sweet QC, for Tutin, said: “Dr Tutin is now a man in his 70s. Prison is hard for a man of no experience, let alone a man of his years.”
An NSPCC spokesman said: “Tutin’s patients went to him in good faith, seeking his wisdom and reassurance. Instead he used his position for his own depravity over two decades, targeting vulnerable women and young girls.”