A senior mental health nurse has been given a caution order for misconduct after sexually harassing a junior colleague while a patient slept in the same room.

Emmanuel Tagara Chikukwa was working as a clinical team leader at Stevenage's Cygnet Hospital - which provides secure mental health services - when, during a 2:1 observation of a patient in February last year, he touched his colleague inappropriately.

While the patient appeared to be asleep, Chikukwa brushed his colleague's bottom with his hands, before resting them on the back of her legs. When she backed away from him, Chikukwa took hold of her cardigan as if to pull her back in.

The victim reported the incident to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and, following an eight-day hearing, the adjudicating panel has concluded that the allegation was true.

Sylvia McLean, who represented the NMC and presented the case, said to Chikukwa: "The deficiencies in your practice relate to the breach of clear professional boundaries and an abuse of power whilst in a position of authority towards a young junior member of staff.

"You demonstrated a flagrant disregard of whether your actions would cause harm, emotional distress and insult.

"Your conduct brought the nursing profession into disrepute and breached fundamental tenets of the nursing profession."

The panel concluded that Chikukwa's conduct was serious and an abuse of position of power and trust, causing emotional harm to the victim.

However, the panel did accept the father-of-two's behaviour was "an uncharacteristic lapse in judgement".

The panel concluded that Chikukwa's actions amounted to misconduct and consequently imposed a caution order for four years, which means any potential employer will be told his fitness to practise had been impaired.

The judgement says: "The panel has determined that to impose a caution order for a period of four years would be the appropriate and proportionate response. It would mark not only the importance of maintaining public confidence in the profession, but also send the public and the profession a clear message about the standards of behaviour required of a registered nurse."

Two further sexual harassment allegations made by two other colleagues about Chikukwa were found not proved by the panel.