'Sleazy' patient sexually assaulted four nurses during hospital stay
A "sleazy" patient who sexually assaulted four nurses during a hospital stay has walked free from court.
James Mitchell, 69, groped the NHS workers during a two week admission and left them feeling shocked and sickened.
Newcastle Crown Court heard when the victims told the pensioner his behaviour was unacceptable he would laugh and grin at their obvious discomfort.
When asked by detectives if he thought his behaviour was appropriate he told them "it would have been 40 years ago".
Mitchell, of Earl's Court, Carley Hill, Sunderland, who was given a suspended sentence for sexual offences in 2016, admitted five charges of sexual assault.
Judge Sarah Mallett sentenced him to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements and a £200 fine.
Mitchell must sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.
The judge told him: "These offences were against nurses carrying out a very important and necessary public function for which you in particular should be extremely grateful.
"They were committed against nurses who were carrying out an important public function that requires them to work with people in close quarters."
The judge said the prison term could be suspended due to Mitchell's "strong personal mitigation", which includes the health problems he was admitted to hospital for.
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court the first attack happened when a nurse was making him comfortable in a chair next to his bed.
Mr Wardlaw said; "He grabbed her buttocks, smiling and laughing while he did so. She told him it was unacceptable and he sat grinning."
The court heard a second nurse was attacked as she put Mitchell to bed and he "groped her bottom", told her he was a "naughty boy" then asked if he could see the hospital chaplin because having "dirty thoughts" about her.
The third victim was attacked as she gave Mitchell a bed bath.
Mr Wardlaw said: "He touched her breast with his hand, smiling as he did so."
The final victim was subjected to two attacks as she tended to Mitchell and tried to take him to the toilet.
The first was when he cupped her bottom and then "smirked and smiled" and the second was when he put his hand up her dress to touch her inner thigh.