East Lancs doctor's assault case conviction quashed

Blackburn Citizen: ABIODUN BALE ABIODUN BALE

A DOCTOR convicted of assaulting a patient as she tried to leave his consulting room has won a fight to clear his name.

GP Dr Abiodun Bale was found guilty of assaulting Sheena Cunningham by beating at the Acorn Medical Centre, Accrington, last March.

The Nigerian-born medic appealed against the conviction imposed by Pennine magistrates last December, at Burnley Crown Court.

Judge Simon Newell, sitting with two justices, allowed the appeal, although the judge said they didn’t believe he had told the truth. The GP had earlier been given a six-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £1,015 costs by the lower court. He now has no criminal convictions.

The crown court had been told how Mrs Cunningham and Dr Bale had had a difference of opinion after an appointment at the surgery. She was leaving the room when the appellant was said to have taken hold of her left forearm with both his hands, pulled once to take her back into the room then pulled a second time.

Mrs Cunningham, who had gone to the practice because of a face infection, had then left the room.

She had told the appeal hearing she shouted ‘get off’ and Dr Bale had said he was trying to help her. Mrs Cunningham was upset and was described by some witnesses as hysterical.

Dr Bale agreed there was a dispute but did not agree he had touched Mrs Cunningham. He claimed that during a ‘breakdown’ between himself and the patient, she was dissatisfied with the treatment and advice and decided to make a false claim about assault.

The doctor had told the court he had just wanted to explain to Mrs Cunningham that he didn’t want her to leave and was trying to do his best for her.

Judge Newell said Dr Bale, of New Moston, Manchester, was relatively inexperienced, had been in this country for only a few years, and was in training. He wasn’t shouting, swearing or being abusive towards Mrs Cunningham.

The argument resulted in him continuing to want to speak to her when she wanted to leave. It seemed Dr Bale unprofessionally, amateurishly and ill-advisedly took hold of her, the judge said.

He added: “He did it because he wanted to give further medical help and assistance. That does not cross the threshold of hostile intent.”

“We do find there is every likelihood in this case he has told lies because of his particular position, the vulnerability of his position and because of panic, confusion and distress.

“We believe Mrs Cunningham wholeheartedly. We do not believe it was with hostile intent. We find he has not told the truth about it and she has.”

According to the GMC website, Dr Bale is suspended from practising.

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