Police have praised victims of a perverted doctor after he was locked up for secretly taking pictures and videos of patients during consultations.
Dr Thair Altaii, 55, is beginning 14 months behind bars after he was sentenced yesterday for taking the snaps and footage over a six-year period.
The GP, of White Rocks Grove, Whitburn, was found to have more than 19,000 images of women on his laptop - some clothed and others in various stages of undress - after a patient at his Sunderland surgery raised concerns about the presence of propped-up mobile phones during consultations.
Police also found a number of videos on Altaii’s laptop and other equipment.
Speaking after the disgraced doctor was locked up at Newcastle Crown Court, 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.”
Altaii was arrested in August 2014 after a patient noticed two propped up mobile phones – one on his desk and another on a shelf overlooking the examination table - during an appointment and alerted police.
When shown some of the images recovered from his laptop, he said they may have been produced automatically after filming appointments “for training reasons”.
He was found guilty of committing three voyeurism offences between 2008-14 by a jury last month and returned to court to be sentenced on Tuesday.
Jailing him, 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 a immediate custodial sentence can be justified."
Jamie Hill, defending, said that his client had spent his life trying to help others.
He added: "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."
Any patients who have similar concerns are asked to contact police on 0800 4640386 or 0330 0412186.