Buddhist doctor cleared of groping teenage patient - after spending six months in jail

Dr Unt Tun Maung

Dr Unt Tun Maung

A married GP who spent six months in prison convicted of groping a teenage girl’s breasts under the camouflage of a medical examination has been cleared after the “terrible misunderstanding.”

Dr Unt Tun Maung, 45, a devout Buddist who follows a strict code on sexual integrity, always denied assaulting the girl at a Cleveland medical practice four years ago.

He was accused of cupping both her breasts after twanging her bra and telling her to take it off after she complained of flu.

Dr Mung, a leading figure in the Sunderland Buddist community, insisted it had been an innocent misunderstanding in a thorough examination after the girl reported a chest infection. He denied he ever asked the girl to take her bra off – or that it was ever removed.

The father of one- of Alpine Court, Chester-le Street, spent six months in prison after being convicted at Durham Crown Court and jailed for 18 months in April 2015.

He launched an appeal after it emerged the woman had sat in the public gallery during the trial, but was then recalled to give evidence. The High Court quashed his conviction and ordered a re-trial.

A jury of six women and six men took just two hours after a five-day trial at Hull Crown Court to find him not guilty of sexual assault.

Dr Maung, who had worked in Sunderland, Teesside and Hartlepool hospitals, wept in the dock at the verdict walking free in to the arms of his wife. They have an 11-year-old daughter.

Speaking outside court he said: “I feel very relieved now. I want it to be publically known , because since my conviction was quashed, I have not been legally allowed to say anything by the court.” He said he was prevented from commenting further as he still had to make hearing before the General Medical Council and he wanted to return to work.

A fellow GP at court said “Dr Maung deserves to have been able to prove his innocence because he was wrongly convicted in the first trial. Doctors, not just in this country, but from abroad have supported him and we want to thank them for that."

Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC, granted Dr Maung his legal costs. Crown barrister Peter Makepeace, QC, who said this was a classic jury case to see who was telling the truth.

Judge Richardson, QC, said: “I make no criticism at all of the Crown bringing this case”.

The woman told the jury she had gone to the walk-in clinic with-flue like symptoms taking off her coat and scarf. She said after he examined her ears and throat he asked her to bend forwards and placed a stethoscope under her blouse, but on top of her vest to listen to her back and chest.

She said after being asked to sit on an examination table and was told to remove her blouse he examined her again before flicking her bra and saying: “Can you remove these”.

She said he palpated her chest with his fingers prodding down.

She said: “He got his right hand under my left breast and came up and cupped the breast for a while.” She said he did the same with the right breast. She added: “There was no eye conduct. It was awkward.” She said after leaving with a prescription for Codine she texted a friend saying: “I feel like I have just been groped by a doctor. That’s all you need.”

Despite making an immediate complaint, the NHS was criticized for “shocking delay” in not reporting it to the police for 12 months.

Dr Mung told the jury the girl had not taken the bra off and he did not cup her breasts, but instead he performed a proper medical examination listening for echoes in the chest restricted by fluid.

Defence barrister Felicity Gerry, QC, said: “There was no cupping or groping of either of the breasts . I suggest it was a proper medical examination and this has all been a terrible misunderstanding. “

The court heard Dr Mung came to the UK in the late 1990s qualifying as a GP and working in practices and hospitals across the north east as a locum.

His late father was a professor of surgery in Burma and his mother was also a doctor. Character references said he is a “loyal, dedicated, and kind” person who was brought up with a strong ethical code.

He meditates five times a day and is a leading figure in the Sunderland Buddhist community.

Despite being released from prison, Dr Maung has been suspended from general practice since October 2013 and now faces a General Medical Council to determine if he can practice again.