A former Oamaru doctor who touched an intellectually disabled patient inappropriately over several years has been sentenced at the Timaru District Court this morning.
Stephen James Dawson, 60, had earlier pleaded guilty to representative charges of indecent assault and doing an indecent act with a person with significant impairment.
He was sentenced to nine months home detention on both charges by Judge Joanna Maze, with conditions.
For the duration of his offending - between March 10, 2008 and September 1, 2016 - Dawson was employed at Central Medical in Oamaru.
He stopped practising on March 27, 2017 and had his practising certificate suspended on June 30 of the same year after 33 years as a general practitioner.
The now 46-year-old Oamaru victim, who has an intellectual disability that made it difficult for her to make her own decisions and who could be easily manipulated, had been Dawson's patient since 1997.
He became close friends with the victim and her mother, who lived together and both worked as cleaners at the Eden St practice.
In additional to touching her breasts on multiple occasions, Dawson also photographed and filmed the woman while she was topless.
He also bought her gifts, including clothing.
When sentencing Dawson, Judge Maze said to describe his case as a "massive fall from grace'' would be an understatement, and that he had committed a "breach of trust'', both personally and professionally.
His sentence was reduced for his early plea, previous good character, remorse, undergoing counselling and the fact he had been diagnosed as having "highly-functioning autism''.
A victim impact statement read in court on behalf of the victim by Detective Warren Duncan, of Oamaru, said the woman's trust in people and ability to perform everyday tasks outside the home she shared with her mother had been taken away from her.
The victim was not present in court for Dawson's sentencing.