Buckinghamshire paediatrician sentenced to four years in prison for "28 sexual offences against 20 children"

Michael Salmon, former Children's doctor
Michael Salmon, former Children's doctor

A former consultant was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for sexual offences yesterday (19/12) at Reading Crown Court.

Michael Salmon, aged 81, formerly of Britford, Salisbury, was convicted at the same court on Monday 12 December of 14 counts of indecent assault after a seven week trial. The jury found him not guilty of rape and not guilty of a further 11 counts of indecent assault.

The offences took place while he worked as a consultant paediatrician in various hospitals in the Buckinghamshire area.

Following media attention after he was convicted at two previous trials for similar offences, more victims came forward and made allegations.

This case heard allegations from 18 female victims and one male, aged between 8 and 15 at the time of the offences who had attended the hospital where he worked. Not all were patients; two were people accompanying patients but had still been examined.

Their ailments included behavioural problems, migraines, stomach pains and epilepsy but almost every examination included him touching them inappropriately and in many instances he performed unnecessary internal examinations.

One victim had a medical problem to do with her ears and yet, as part of her medical examination, he demanded she remove her clothes while he touched her inappropriately. He never examined her ears.

Victims routinely had to disrobe and he would talk to very young girls about sex while he examined them. Many complained of feeling uncomfortable and after one examination he gave a young patient 50p "for being a good girl".

The officer in the case, Specialist Investigator Emma Barlow said: "Following the convictions in 1990 and 2015, victims had the strength to tell me what had happened to them during visits to see Mr Salmon who treated them when they were child patients of his.

"Mr Salmon abused the trust placed in him in the most vile way for his own sexual gratification.

"I would like to thank all the victims and witnesses for having the courage to come and tell the court what happened and hopefully they will obtain some closure from his conviction.

"Mr Salmon has now been convicted of a total of 28 serious sexual assaults against 20 children, which included indecent assault and rape, in three separate trials.

"Mr Salmon was a consultant paediatrician in the 1970s and 1980s. He was described as eminent and highly regarded. The court heard repeatedly how Mr Salmon was trusted by his child patients and by their parents. In some cases the victims were afraid to report their concerns due to fear of not being believed due to Mr Salmon's position in society.

"Throughout the trial Mr Salmon described the accounts of his victims as fantasy, nonsense and fairytales."

Det Sgt Malcolm Wheeler, from Aylesbury Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: "The Child Abuse Investigation Unit of Thames Valley Police would like to reassure those who have been the victim of sexual assault that no matter when, and no matter by whom, that Thames Valley Police will listen and take any allegation seriously".

Nina Maisuria, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "Michael Salmon abused his position as a consultant paediatrician and took advantage of his status and circumstances to sexually abuse the children, during medical examinations, for his own sexual gratification. He made inappropriate comments, asked about the sexual activity of the girls and disguised what he was doing to ensure that those he molested would be less likely to complain.

"Salmon was struck off the medical register in 1991 after pleading guilty in December 1990 to three counts of indecent assault against young female patients and, in February 2015, he was jailed for 18 years after being found guilty of two counts of rape and nine counts of indecent assault after a four week trial. The victims in this case came forward as a result of the media coverage following the 2015 trial and I would like to pay tribute to them for their strength and tenacity in coming forward.

"Salmon denied any sexual wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct, specifically denied undertaking any unnecessary internal examinations and insisted that a nurse and a parent were always present during his examinations. However, on Monday, 12 December 2016, at Reading Crown Court, he was found guilty, by a jury, of 14 counts of indecent assault, after a six week trial, despite his denials.

"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 Doctor Salmon during the medical examinations.

"The convictions 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 Thames Valley Police 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."

An NSPCC spokesperson said:

“It beggars belief that a man responsible for looking after children committed so many vile assaults against those in his care.

“His abhorrent crimes have now caught up with him thanks to the courage of the victims who have come forward.

“These further convictions show that no one is immune from prosecution no matter how highly regarded they are or how long ago they committed their crimes.

“Victims of abuse will be listened to and given support. They can call our helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111.”