Doctor in prison for sex assaults is cleared of rape

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A jury acquitted a consultant gynaecologist on Wednesday of raping a patient during a hypnosis session, only to be told minutes later that he was serving a six-year prison sentence for a string of indecent assaults on patients during the 1980s.

Darwish Hasan Darwish was cleared by Preston Crown Court. He was sent to prison in 1999 for assaulting nine women while practising at Arrowe Park Hospital, in Wirral, Merseyside – although he was also cleared of rape at that trial.

The case's conclusion came a day after Lord Justice Auld's criminal courts review and the Law Commission proposed that in certain cases juries might be told of defendants' previous convictions, a recommendation of the Government's 10-year Crime Plan announced earlier this year.

The proposal, a source of as much derision from human rights lawyers as support from many of the judiciary, is believed to have been inspired by a series of rape and paedophile cases in which juries discovered after acquittal that a defendant had a long list of previous convictions for sexual offences.

Convictions are only ever likely to be introduced at a judge's discretion and in cases where, in the words of an influential 1996 Law Commission report into the subject, the "probative value outweighs its likely prejudicial effect".

Darwish, 55, fell to his knees and prayed as the verdict was announced, before he was led away for the journey back to Manchester's Strangeways prison, where he was sent two years ago after a jury convicted him of assaulting nine women. In that trial, he was cleared of raping and indecently assaulting a 19-year-old woman.

The jury in the Preston case was told that he had raped and impregnated a 54-year-old woman in a private consulting room during a hypnotherapy session in 1985, and had delivered the baby himself.

The case came to light after the woman's husband became aware of similarities between the child and Darwish's children when he undertook building work at his house 15 years later. The court was told that the woman, who allegedly had been unaware of the attack she claimed took place, was influenced by publicity surrounding his previous convictions, when she contacted police. DNA tests confirmed Darwish to be the father of her daughter, who is now 15, the six-day trial was told.

Anthony Gee, for the prosecution, said Darwish, who was born in Sudan, had seen the woman on a regular basis for four years, leading her back to the same consulting room at Arrowe Park where he would encourage her to imagine her husband in a sexual manner during their half-hour sessions.

But Darwish insisted that she, then 39, had chosen to visit him and seduced him as they drank coffee in his lounge, during his treatment of her for reduced libido experienced after the birth of her second child.

The woman brushed away a tear after the verdict. Her husband left without commenting. Darwish's solicitor, Jeremy Moore, thanked the jury for making "the only sensible verdict in this case".

Norman Brennan, the director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said: "In some cases the jury should be told of offenders' previous criminal behaviour, especially where the convictions are of a similar nature. The law should protect both the rights of defendants and victims but in a majority of cases it is the defendants' rights which supersede those of victims."

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