‘Sickening, abhorrent abuse’ – Stotfold GP Robert Lewis jailed for sexually exploiting female recruits to emergency services during medical checks

Dr Robert Lewis, who abused his position of trust to sexually exploit female recruits to the emergen

Dr Robert Lewis, who abused his position of trust to sexually exploit female recruits to the emergency services during breast and hernia exams, has today been jailed for two and a half years. - Credit: Archant

A Stotfold GP who abused his position of trust to sexually exploit female recruits to the emergency services during breast and hernia exams has today been jailed.

Dr Robert Lewis, a GP at the Larksfield Surgery in Stotfold, was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault against three victims – all of whom had been referred to him for pre-employment medical checks after applying to join the ambulance or fire service between 1999 and 2002.

And the 51-year-old – who lives in North Bridge Street in Shefford – was today sentenced to two and half years behind bars by judge Michael Kay QC at Luton Crown Court.

In a statement read out in court, one of Lewis’ victims described the impact the assault had had on her.

“I clearly remember how I felt when I walked into his consulting room that day,” she said.

“I felt happy, confident and excited about my future prospects. I left feeling humiliated, having been assaulted by Dr Lewis.

“I remember feeling powerless, vulnerable, and ashamed.”

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Later in the statement the victim told how she could no longer trust male medical staff and was wary about leaving her child alone with men.

“I feel vindicated by the jury’s guilty verdict,” she concluded.

“Knowing that they believed me and that justice has been served will allow me, I hope, to finally move on.

“Dr Lewis knew what he did that day – the shame is his, not mine.”

The doctor initially faced 37 charges against 23 women between 1999 and 2009, all of which he denied.

At the end of a four-week trial in November 2015, he was found guilty on four of the counts.

During a retrial this month he was cleared of five further charges – with that jury also finding him not guilty of three charges the first jury had not reached a verdict on.

There are no reports that the GP abused any of his own regular patients at the surgery – and Adrian Foster, chief crown prosecutor for the Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service, suggested the doctor had deliberately targeted the women as he was unlikely to see them again.

“Robert Lewis abused his position of trust as a doctor and took advantage of his circumstances to subtly sexually abuse the women, during medical examinations, for his own sexual gratification,” said Mr Foster.

“He deliberately targeted women he was not likely to see again and disguised what he was doing to ensure that those he assaulted would be less likely to complain.

“The women were particularly vulnerable because they were desperate to pass their medical in order to secure new or alternative employment within the ambulance or fire service.

“It is only due to the great courage of the victims that the despicable behaviour of this man has been exposed. I would like to pay tribute to them for their strength and tenacity in coming forward.

“This was an extremely difficult and complex case to prosecute involving numerous victims and witnesses, and evidence from a medical expert to exclude any possible innocent explanation for the actions of Dr Lewis during the medical examinations.

“The convictions and today’s sentence serve as an important message to people who have been the victim of crimes such as these, or those that know that such crimes are being committed, that they should come forward and that time is no barrier to justice.

“The CPS will work closely with partners, as we did with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit in this case, to ensure that robust criminal cases are put before the courts.

“The emotional impact, on the victims, of the abhorrent actions of this man is impossible to quantify.

“I hope that the convictions and today’s sentence give some small comfort to them. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time.”

Det Insp Scott Winton of the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit, who led the case against the doctor, said: “Robert Lewis carried out sickening offences against women who should have been able to trust him. His behaviour was made all the more repulsive by the fact he was in a position of authority.

“The victims in this case have shown incredible bravery in coming forward, and I would hope this case reassures all victims of sexual offences that we take every report – whether recent or historic – extremely seriously.

“This has been a long and complex investigation and I am pleased that this doctor has not managed to get away with his disgusting acts – despite what he may have believed for all these years.”