Sussex Police admit GP Antony Collis abuse case failings

Antony Collis
Image caption Collis worked at the Belmont Surgery for 25 years

A police force has apologised for failings in its initial investigation into a family doctor who abused young girls at his East Sussex surgery.

Antony Collis, 59, was jailed for more than eight years at the Old Bailey on Friday for indecent assaults on girls carried out at the Belmont Surgery.

Police investigated complaints against him in 2003 but the CPS decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

Sussex Police said the investigation was not of a "professional standard".

Collis, from Stonegate, near Wadhurst, assaulted the girls during examinations behind a curtain while their mothers waited on the other side.

Pornographic images

He was found guilty at the Old Bailey on Tuesday of eight counts of indecent assault involving five girls aged under 14.

He was jailed for a total of eight years and 10 months, placed on the sex offenders register for life and given an indefinite sex offenders prevention order.

The court had heard Sussex Police re-opened the investigation and charged Collis in 2008.

The case was reopened after the General Medical Council found 43 instances of misconduct in relation to inappropriate examinations of girls.

Following the sentencing, Det Insp Emma Heater, of Sussex Police, apologised to his victims.

She said: "We are pleased to secure this conviction for the victims and unfortunately recognise that this should have been done sooner.

"We reopened the investigation in 2008 and subsequently realised that avenues of investigation had not been pursued.

"That investigation was not of the professional standard that we see today and lessons have been learned.

"We apologise to the victims and their families for this."

Collis worked at the Belmont Surgery, serving Wadhurst, Ticehurst and Frant, for 25 years.

The offences were committed over a 10-year period until 2003.

During the trial, the court was told pornographic images of children had been viewed on Collis's two computers, which were seized after his arrest.

He was found guilty of eight counts of indecent assault and admitted two offences of making indecent pictures of children.

He was cleared of four counts of indecent assault and two further counts on the directions of the judge.

At the Old Bailey on Friday, Collis received one jail term of term of eight years and six months for the assaults and a further four months for possessing indecent images of children.

Brendan Finucane QC, mitigating for Collis, said: "His life has disintegrated. His marriage has ended, he has lost his home, his life has fallen to pieces."

Collis had paid £50,000 in damages to six girls who complained to the General Medical Council.

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