SYDNEY: A former senior male oncologist, John Henry KEARSLEY, who drugged and indecently assaulted a junior female registrar has had his minimum jail term slashed by nearly two-thirds on appeal after a court took into account his “extraordinary” contribution to the medical profession and good standing in the community.
KEARSLEY, 65, will be eligible for parole in May 2017 — 18 months sooner than mandated under his original sentence.
A reason given for the sentence reduction was his outstanding medical career. Good grief!
According to the agreed facts, the then-director of radiation oncology at Sydney’s St. George Hospital invited his young colleague to his house in November 2013 and proceeded to spike her drink with lorazepam.
When she complained of dizziness, he suggested she lie on his couch for a “relaxation exercise”. She later awoke on a bed in a guest room to find him massaging her back and kissing her breast.
KEARSLEY pleaded guilty to using an intoxicating substance to commit an indictable offence, and assault with an act of indecency, and was sentenced in August 2016 to a minimum of two years and three months in jail, with a maximum of four years and three months.
During sentencing, the court was read an impact statement from the victim detailing how the incident had left her with post-traumatic stress and unable to trust her colleagues.
“My world is broken and it will never be the same,” she wrote.
The 3 judges placed emphasis on Mr KEARSLEY’s “powerful subjective circumstances” leading up to the crime, which included “extreme stress”, a deteriorating relationship with his wife and heavy drinking.
Justice Robert Macfarlan stressed that it was relevant to consider Mr KEARSLEY had “lost his profession, his position of good standing in the community, and has been the subject of adverse media publicity”. He noted that Mr KEARSLEY “had rendered extraordinary service to the medical profession, and, through it, to the community at large”.
The court also heard Mr KEARSLEY was not coping well in jail given that he was an “older person of a professional background” and his mental health was deteriorating rapidly. So he should be spared from being unable to cope?
The judges were split as to whether criminal Mr KEARSLEY should receive jail time at all. Unbelievable!
Justice Ian Harrison argued Mr KEARSLEY’s sentence should be suspended because it would be “starkly disproportionate to the criminality of the offences in question”, especially when taking into account Mr KEARSLEY’s “entirely blemish-free record and impressive life of community service”.
But his two fellows held that a custodial sentence, although reduced, was appropriate given the nature of the offending.
KEARSLEY’s medical registration has been suspended. Is that the big punishment? Not in the public’s view.
MEAG COMMENT: Unbelievable. …’good standing in the community’! ‘impressive life of community service’, so what? The abuse of trust of his position should have resulted in harsher penalty, both as punishment of the perpetrator and a deterrent to others. What about the registrar, Your Honour?