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London - A South African doctor who sexually assaulted and photographed patients as young as 18 months was jailed for six years by an English court on Tuesday.
Barend Delport, 55, a general practitioner and Baptist preacher, took 800 photographs of women and children at his surgery for his own sexual gratification.
He told his victims – who ranged from a toddler to a woman in her sixties – a raft of lies, even claiming he needed the images for training purposes.
Sentencing Delport on Tuesday at Maidstone Crown Court, Judge Philip Statman said it was difficult to imagine “a graver breach of trust”.
The doctor carried out the abuse between 2003 and last year, and was said to have assaulted numerous victims.
The court was given details of only six – three women and three girls aged 14, four and 18 months – whom he sexually assaulted at his surgery in Swanley, Kent in south-east England. The doctor was caught only after a mother asked why her young daughter had been intimately examined and photographed by Delport when she had complained of a stomach ache.
When police received the complaint in March, a letter was sent to every patient at The Oaks surgery urging them to get in touch if they had concerns. It provoked a string of similar allegations.
A teenage victim of Delport described her horror at learning he had touched and photographed her for sexual gratification.
Up to 100 intimate pictures of the girl were found on the GP’s computer following a police raid. Delport photographed her six times from the age of 10 to 15.
The 17-year-old, from Swanley in Kent, said: “I thought he was nice and kind. He would sometimes give me sweets and money when I went to see him. My mom was always in the room, so I never felt weird.
“I was a bit embarrassed when he first asked if he could take photographs, but I never questioned it. I was too young and he was a doctor.
“When I found out he had pleaded guilty, I felt sick. I put all my trust in him and he wasn’t trustworthy. Now I’m scared to go to the doctor’s.”
She said Delport would also tell her he was going to say prayers for her.
Shortly after his arrest, Delport resigned from the surgery and left the £500 000 (about R7.8 million) three-bedroom home he shared with his wife Sally in the village of Eynsford.
Mrs Delport, 54, a jewellery maker, is said to “remain committed” to her husband, although they have separated.
Delport qualified at the University of Pretoria in 1981 and did his internship at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg the following year.
In 1984 he qualified as a dental assistant. He was registered as a doctor in South Africa with the Health Professions Council of South Africa for 17 years, deregistering only when he emigrated to the UK in June 1998.
In 1989 he was given a caution and a reprimand after being found guilty of improper conduct by the council for not identifying a patient before administering anaesthetic.
In court, prosecutor Anthony Haycroft said Delport had concocted a string of excuses to justify taking pictures of his victims.
He claimed to be a dermatologist when taking intimate pictures of a child suffering from a skin complaint, the prosecutor said.
When he was arrested police found 500 000 images on his computer.
Of those, more than 5 500 were pornographic and 842 were of patients he had taken himself. Photographic consent forms were also seized.
“The mothers of the child victims all feel totally and understandably abused,” said Haycroft. “They have feelings of guilt and they have lost trust in doctors completely.”
Delport admitted 26 offences, including four indecent assaults on adults and three indecent assaults on children.
He also admitted two counts of possessing indecent images of children, five of making indecent images of children and 12 of taking indecent images.
Delport accepted two further charges of indecent assault on Tuesday – against a victim who came forward following his last court hearing – and asked for them to be taken into consideration.
Michael Haynes, for Delport, said the general practitioner’s shame was “overwhelming” and that he had let down his wife, friends, patients and church. Since his arrest Delport had sought treatment for his “addiction to pornography”.
At the time of his arrest, he was presiding over a Sunday service at Eynsford Baptist Church following the departure of the minister.
Friends said Delport earned more than £100 000 (about R1.5m) a year and enjoyed spending his money on golfing holidays, clothes and gadgets.
Daily Mail – Additional reporting by Sipokazi Fokazi