A GP who molested a heavily pregnant patient during an antenatal check up was jailed for three years.

Michael St John, 58, sucked the 28-year-old married Muslim’s left breast ‘like a baby’ before performing a sex act on her when she complained of back pain at his east London surgery.

The medic wept as Judge Timothy King told him: ‘Without a shadow of a doubt the most serious aspect of your offending is the breach of trust that was involved in the commission of these offences.

‘When patients go to see their doctor they quite literally place themselves in the hands of their doctor and take their doctor on trust not to abuse their position.

‘The patient can hardly be in a more accessible and vulnerable position than in these particular circumstances.’

St John admitted licking the Somali-born patient’s nipple and probing her intimately without latex gloves – but claimed the seven months’ pregnant woman consented.

But jurors at Snaresbrook Crown Court unanimously convicted St John of sexual assault and assault by penetration.

The victim, who stripped from her hijab and Muslim dress for St John’s ‘examination’ at the
Stepney Health Centre, is still coming to terms with the attack, said prosecutor Karen Holt.

‘She indicated while she was giving her evidence both the upset she was caused and the anger, and indeed the distrust she feels and still feels towards the medical profession.’

The woman, who cannot be named, later gave birth to a healthy girl.

St John, whose wife Frances and three daughters supported him from the public gallery, described his actions in October 2007 as a ‘moment of madness’.

Turning to St John’s distraught family and supporters, Judge King said: ‘Goodness alone knows the feeling of distress they must be going through.

‘They only need to look in your direction to see the source of their anxiety and misery,’ the judge told St John.

Judge King ordered St John to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely and pay £2,000 costs.

The judge also imposed a sexual offences prevention order banning St John from giving clinical advice or treatment to woman.

Sarah Whitehouse, defending, said St John accepted it was ‘unlikely’ he would ever practice medicine again.

St John had led a ‘blameless career’ spanning 30 years, said the barrister.

‘Dr St John does accept full responsibility for what happened, which is not to say he accepts his guilt,’ said Miss Whitehouse.

‘But he does now accept looking back that he did not have this lady’s consent,’ she added.

‘He is remorseful for his conduct,’ said Miss Whitehouse.

More than 200 people including staff and patients at the surgery had signed a petition in support of the disgraced medic,’ said the barrister.

‘The character evidence collected on behalf of Dr St John shows him to be a selfless, compassionate and diligent man,’ she said.

‘He chose to practice in a deeply deprived and poverty-stricken area of London and has done so for more than 30 years,’ added Miss Whitehouse.

St John, of Magellan Place, Isle of Dogs, east London, was convicted sexual assault and assault by penetration.