Trusted doctor took thousands of secret pictures of female patients for 'sexual gratification', court told
A trusted GP accused of taking secret pictures during appointments for sexual gratification had 19,000 images of women on his private computer, a court heard.
Dr Thair Altaii used two mobile phones to capture covert images of female patients during medical appointments at his surgery in Sunderland and stored them on his laptop, it is claimed.
The 55-year-old also made and kept video recordings of patients' private examinations, jurors have heard.
Altaii, of White Rocks Grove, Whitburn, denies three offences of voyeurism between 2008 and 2014, in relation to two female patients, and is being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.
He claims the images were captured for his own assessment and training purposes.
Jurors have watched video clips of a woman who was being recorded while confiding in the GP about her medical problems and being examined on the legs after removing her tights.
They have also seen a collection of some of the secret pictures taken on Altaii's two mobile phones during consultations in his room at the practice.
Prosecutor Louise Reevell told the court the police became involved when a patient noticed two mobile phones, propped up in different places during an appointment.
Miss Reevell said: "One of the defendant's patients contacted the police in August 2014.
"She contacted the police with concerns following an appointment with the defendant, during which she had noticed two mobile telephones, propped up in a consultation room.
"One was propped up on the defendant's desk, pointing towards the patient's chair. The second propped up on a shelf overlooking the examination table in the same room."
The court heard the doctor was arrested as a result of the patient's concerns and his Dell laptop, along with other equipment, was seized.
He denied recording the consultation with the concerned patient and said he had taken recordings of patients when he was training but always with consent.
Miss Reevell added: "The items seized were examined by the police and a forensic investigator.
"They found in excess of 19,000 images of women, some clothed, others were in various states of undress and the images were apparently taken in the surgery environment.
"They also recovered video clips of patients being examined."
The court heard the doctor had 223 images and also video clips of one woman patient. She was spoken to by detectives about their find and viewed what had been found.
She told police she had not consented to any footage being taken of her during appointments and added: "I would have refused if asked."
The woman, who had noticed the mobile phones during an appointment and alerted the police, featured in 116 of the images.
She also viewed the pictures that have been found of her and said she had not given permission for any of them to be taken.
The woman told police she had noticed a propped up phone, which she thought may be an iPhone, on the doctors desk during an appointment but had initially thought it may have been left in that position after he had been tidying.
She said it was when she saw the second phone, which she thought may be a Blackberry, overlooking the examination area, he concern grew.
In a statement to police she said: "I started to feel uncomfortable and wanted to leave, having seen two mobile phones in unusual standing positions facing different examination areas of the room.
"What was said afterwards was blurred. I was uncomfortable and didn't know what was going on.
"I couldn't say 100% if they were recording but common sense told me they shouldn't be there."
During a later police interview, Altaii gave a prepared statement through his solicitor and accepted recording nine medical consultations without permission of the patients or making them aware.
He accepted he had "made an error of judgement" but had made the recordings for self assessment of his consultation skills and examination technique.
When Ataii was inteviewed again and shown some of the still images recovered by the police, he said they may have been produced automatically when he paused the video recordings he had taken for training reasons.
The doctor said he was unable to provide any paperwork relating to studies he had told police he had been involved in.
He denied any of the images or videos were taken for sexual gratification.
Miss Reevell told jurors: "The prosecution case is that the defendant's purpose in having those images was sexual, that is why he had and retained the images, for his own sexual gratification.
"The prosecution will invite you to draw that conclusion based on the nature of the images you will see. That is going to be the issue in the trial.
"What was the defendant's purpose in having these images? Was it sexual as the prosecution say or, as the defendant said, for self assessment and training purposes."
The trial continues.