A trusted GP who secretly filmed 19,000 videos of his female patients has been jailed.
A court heard how Dr Thair Altaii hid two mobile phones to capture the women during appointments ‘in various states of undress’ and used them for sexual pleasure at his surgery in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.
One victim said that the 55-year-old ‘will never know the true damage that he has caused to my life,’ while another one added: ‘I cannot express how broken I feel because of the actions of Dr Altaii.’
Newcastle Crown Court were told how the married dad-of-three was caught when a patient noticed two propped up mobile phones during a consultation and contacted police, prompting officers to examine his devices and find the material.
Altaii, of White Rocks Grove, Whitburn, South Tyneside, had initially claimed that he had taken the images for his own assessment and training purposes.
Prosecutor Louise Reevell said that the woman did not want to go to the police because she didn’t want to believe it was true.
Miss Reevell told the court: ‘One of the victims has suffered a massive violation at the hands of the defendant and a breach of trust.
‘She felt there was breach of confidentiality and that makes her feel physically sick.
‘She was worried about who had seen them. She worries about how long it had been going on for.
‘She will not open up any more and her self-esteem is low.’
In a victim statement read out by Judge Edward Bindloss, one of the women said: ‘In the one place you were taught to feel safe, I have suffered a massive violation at the hands of a person I am meant to trust with personal problems.
‘My circle of friends is now minimal because I don’t trust.’
Altaii denied three offences of voyeurism between 2008 and 2014, in relation to two female patients, but was convicted by a jury after just one hour’s deliberation.
He was suspended when the allegations against him came to light.
Jamie Hill, QC, defending, said: ‘I accept on behalf of Dr Altaii that this combination of circumstances crosses the custody threshold.
‘Dr Altaii is a man of no previous convictions and has of course lost his name and reputation as a result of his own actions.
‘He will of course lose his position. He has brought terrible shame upon his family and raw emotion comes through in a letter from his daughter.
‘Although he has been living in a separate location, his wife and daughters still support him.
‘This defendant has been subject to this case for four years. There was no evidence that anyone else had access to this material.
‘He was forced to come to this country because of the difficult circumstances he found himself in Iraq.’
Sentencing him to 14 months in jail, Judge Edward Bindloss said: ‘You were secretly and surreptitiously recording patients without their knowledge.
‘Most were images of these two women in stages of undress.
‘There was a significant degree of planning. You checked the cameras were in the right place.
‘You are of hither-to of good character. You were an able, respected and hard working doctor.
‘I have read a letter from your eldest daughter. They too in their own way are victims of your offending.
‘Your case is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified.’
Altaii, of White Rocks Grove, Whitburn, South Tyneside, must also sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.
Detective Constable Lee Boys, of Northumbria Police, said: ‘Thair Altaii clearly abused his position of trust and caused inevitable distress to his victims, who were totally unaware of what he was doing.
‘He must now deal with the consequences of his actions, having destroyed his own professional career and reputation.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank his victims for the courage, determination and dignity they have shown throughout this investigation, and for their assistance at every step of the process.
‘It is their bravery and willingness to inform police of Altaii’s suspicious behaviour that has resulted in his conviction, ensuring no more of his patients can become unwilling and unknowing victims.’