Sex-case nurse loses appeal bid

Gavin Nicholson

Gavin Nicholson

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A NURSE convicted of sexually assaulting patients while they were under anaesthetic has had his bid for freedom rejected.

Gavin Nicholson, pictured, 59, of West Avenue, Washington, was jailed for eight years in 2011 after being found guilty of three sexual assaults.

They were carried out on women recovering from surgery at the private Spire Washington Hospital.

Nicholson was suspended from the profession by the Nursing and Midwifery Council after the hospital received complaints from a number of female patients in 2008.

At his trial, Nicholson was found guilty of molesting three anaesthetised women as they recovered from operations.

He appealed against his conviction last month and now Lord Justice Pitchford has dismissed Nicholson’s appeal.

The judge said Nicholson’s argument that the evidence was insufficient to justify one of the convictions failed.

Nicholson was working in the surgical recovery room at the Spire Washington Hospital when he abused the three female patients.

One woman said that, while recovering from the effects of a general anaesthetic, a male nurse had molested her by putting his hand on her breast under her clothing.

He repeated the act when a female member of staff left the room, but the woman was unable to react due to the effects of the drugs.

A second woman told of being molested while unable to open her eyes, while a third complained of abuse while coming round after a shoulder operation.

At his appeal, Nicholson’s lawyers argued the allegation made by the first of the victims should have been withdrawn from the jury’s consideration.

The evidence was “vague and insubstantial” and the prosecution had failed to put forward a case to prove Nicholson had the opportunity to commit the offence.

At the trial, he said he was not responsible for observing the patient until she was fully alert, while she said the assault happened at an earlier stage.

Giving judgment, Lord Justice Pitchford, who heard the appeal with Mr Justice Lloyd Jones and Judge William Davis, QC, rejected the argument.

“In our judgment, there was sufficient evidence of sexual interference by the appellant to enable the jury to adjudicate upon the reliability of the complainant’s evidence,” he said.

“There was no dispute that the appellant was on duty throughout the complainant’s stay in the recovery room.

“The evidence was that staff would move in and out of the recovery room as and when circumstances required.”

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