Ian Paterson: Acclaimed breast surgeon with 'God complex' harmed patients with unnecessary operations

Chloe Chaplain
Guilty: Former breast surgeon Ian Paterson: PA

A breast surgeon who carried out numerous "completely unnecessary" operations on female patients – possibly for financial gain – has been convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent.

Acclaimed surgeon Ian Paterson, who was also convicted of three counts of unlawful wounding, sobbed as he was found guilty.

He was described as having a “God complex” and the court heard how he lied to patients and exaggerated - or invented - the risk of cancer to convince them to go under the knife.

The 59-year-old did so for "obscure motives" which may have included a desire to "earn extra money", his trial at Nottingham Crown Court heard.

The Scottish-born surgeon had maintained that all the operations were necessary – but the jury agreed with the prosecution that Paterson carried out "extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason".

Guilty: Ian Paterson has been convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding (PA)

And figures revealed the NHS has paid out nearly £18 million, of which £9.5 million was damages, following claims from nearly 800 patients of Paterson.

Paterson's seven-week trial heard harrowing testimony from 10 patients treated between 1997 and 2011, with one victim telling jurors: "That person has ruined my life."

The victims told the court they believed they were seriously ill after seeing Paterson, with one patient saying she was described as a "cancer ticking bomb" and another convinced she had cancer - rather than merely being at risk of developing it.

Others who suffered at his hands included Leanne Joseph, who is said to have agreed to two "unnecessary operations", leaving her unable to breastfeed, after he told her it was a "small price to pay for her life".

The mother - aged 25 when she had the operations in 2006 - was left paranoid and developed OCD after later giving birth, fearing for the immune system of her daughter who is now eight years old.

Another victim, Joanne Lowson, was left with a "significant deformity in her visible cleavage area" after a pair of unneeded operations on her left breast by Paterson in 2010.

Detective Sergeant Dale Robertson said: "They (the victims) have been traumatised, they have been subjected to a very uncomfortable experience.”

He said that Paterson's motives "remained obscure", adding: "We have considered elements, obviously financial being one.

“We can speculate with regards to hubris, over-confidence in his own status as a top breast surgeon, excessive pride in his work, playing God with people's lives, enjoying being able to tell someone he has saved their life.”

Judge Jeremy Baker released Paterson on conditional bail ahead of sentencing in May. The maximum sentence for wounding with intent is life.

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