June 2018

Ex nurse at Royal Victoria Hospital indecently assaulted teenage male patient

A former nurse at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital was today (Friday) handed a two-year probation order for indecently assaulting a teenage male patient.

Charles Watson, 83, of Carlston Avenue, Holywood, Co Down, had pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault on his victim on dates between December 1984 and January 1987.

Belfast Crown Court heard in the mid 1980s the victim had been referred to the Genito Urinary Medicines (GUM) unit at the RVH after contracting a sexual transmitted disease.

Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer said that at time Watson was working in the GUM unit as a clinical nursing supervisor.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC was told that during a testing procedure, Watson sexually assaulted the 16-year-old for around three minutes.

On a later occasion, the teenager was referred back to the same unit after contacting another sexual transmitted disease (STD) and was sexually assaulted again by Watson.

“He knew what was being done to him was wrong… but it was not until 1998 that he told a close friend,” said Mr Steer.

In 2005, after contracting another STD, the victim was referred back to the GUM unit for the same testing procedure which was carried out by a different nurse but no sexual assault took place.

The court heard that in September 2016, the victim got work doing repairs at a house in Holywood and realised that the owner of the house was the male nurse who had sexually assaulted him two decades previously.

Mr Steer said that victim “confronted” Watson about the sexual assaults and the defendant replied: “I agree.”

He added that the sexual assaults were a “breach of trust” by a nurse on a patient. In mitigation, he said Watson had a previously clear record.

Defence lawyer Declan Quinn said Watson was “genuinely remorseful” for the distress he had caused his victim.

“We accept that this is a breach of trust case and the impact it has had on the victim.”

He told the court that Watson was a homosexual who had to hide his sexuality in his early years as it was illegal, adding the defendant had been in relationship with his partner ‘Paddy’ for over 50 years.

Mr Quinn said Watson had worked in the health service for 30 years and was described by his senior colleagues as having a good work record.

As a result of his guilty plea, the court heard that Watson had to resign from his voluntary work with his church.

Judge Kerr said it was a “serious case” of historical sexual abuse which had occurred over a three year period.

He told Watson that he was treating the offences as a breach of trust case because at the time the victim was a patient and the defendant was a nurse.

The judge said that another aggravating factor was the age difference between the defendant and the complainant.

The court heard that Watson was assessed by the Probation Service as low risk of reoffending and posed no danger to the public.

Judge Kerr added that he would follow the recommendation made in the report and told Watson that he was being made the subject of a two year probation order “to give you the assistance and supervision you require”.

But the judge warned Watson: “If you don’t follow the probation officer’s recommendations you will be brought back to court to be resentenced and that will not be your advantage.”

Watson was also made the subject of a notification period for the next five years.

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