A doctor holds a stethoscope in an outpatients ward at a hospital in London. File picture: Toby Mellville/Reuters

London - A doctor who secretly filmed female patients in his surgery and amassed a library of 19 000 images was on Friday jailed for 14 months.

Iraqi-born GP Dr Thair Altaii, 55, was caught after a patient noticed a mobile phone propped on his desk and became suspicious.

Police found a staggering number of photos and videos of women in states of undress over a six-year period.

The married father-of-three claimed he was using the images for training purposes – saying of one: ‘You see the thong, I see the scoliosis (twisted spine).’

However, a jury heard he had captured the scenes without consent and for his sexual gratification. It took less than an hour to convict him of three voyeurism charges.

One woman spotted the propped-up phone on the doctor’s desk during an appointment, Newcastle Crown Court heard. Initially she thought it may have been left there after he had been tidying. Her concern grew when she saw the second phone overlooking the examination area.

When police examined his laptop, they found thousands of pictures of patients, ‘some clothed and others in various states of undress’.

Images of one showed her in a bra, putting on or taking off a dress, removing knickers, standing in her underwear and with her buttocks exposed. The footage showed the GP carefully positioning the phones for the secret filming.

He was seen appearing to set the phone to record before saying ‘Yes, come in’ to the patient.

The two women he was convicted of recording both made statements to the court.

One said: ‘In the one place you are taught to feel safe I have suffered this massive violation at the hands of the person I most trust with personal problems.

‘Had he asked me for permission to record me I would have declined because I am a very private person and I am not confident.

‘He violated his position of trust and confidentiality for his own gratification. It makes me feel physically sick to think what those images were used for.’

The second victim said: ‘I was extremely distressed at the amount of material he had stored of me and I shudder to think how long he has been taking footage and images of me. You should be able to trust your doctor because they are the person who makes life-changing decisions on your behalf. I can’t express how completely broken I feel because of his actions.’

The court heard Altaii had brought ‘terrible shame’ on his family with his daughter having written a letter expressing her ‘raw emotion’. Altaii, of Whitburn, South Tyneside, came to Britain in 1998 because of ‘difficult circumstances he found himself in Iraq’, the court heard.

Sentencing him to 14 months, Judge Edward Bindloss told the GP: ‘These victims were being recorded in a doctor’s surgery, a place they should have been able to feel safe.’

Altaii now faces the prospect of being struck off by the General Medical Council.