Ambulance paramedic from Fencehouses warned he is facing a prison sentence after admitting misconduct in public office

The Northern Echo: Ambulance paramedic William Mitchell leaving Durham Crown Court after admitting misconduct in a public office Ambulance paramedic William Mitchell leaving Durham Crown Court after admitting misconduct in a public office

A PARAMEDIC has admitted indulging in sexual activity with a patient he was supposed to be assisting in the back of an ambulance.

William Thomas Mitchell repeatedly fondled the prone patient’s breasts and placed her hand over his penis while leaning over the apparently semi-conscious woman, supposedly assisting her en route to hospital.

Durham Crown Court was shown CCTV footage from a camera in the rear of the ambulance of Mitchell’s behaviour after he and a colleague picked up the unnamed patient from her home at mid-afternoon on Thursday, April 18.

The other member of the crew went into the front cab to drive while Mitchell was left in the back to assist the patient, who was said to be displaying, “volatile and rather bizarre behaviour”.

Mitchell, 57, who works for the North-East Ambulance Service, today (Monday December 9) admitted a charge of misconduct in a public office, in that he, “wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification, misconducted himself by engaging in sexual activity”, while on duty as an ambulance paramedic.

The single count indictment was only put to Mitchell following an unsuccessful application by his barrister, David Comb, to have it formally dismissed.

Mr Comb argued that the charge of misconduct in public office should not apply to clinicians in any sphere of the health service and he said there were no such reported prosecutions.

He said there were adequate professional disciplinary bodies, such as the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to deal with allegations of misconduct.

Mr Comb also claimed it would be unfair to adopt the charge where there were apparently no previous similar cases.

But Judge Christopher Prince ruled against him on both arguments, stating that a clinician, “was a public office holder” and, therefore, can be prosecuted under Common Law.

But Mr Comb said it was his intention to seek to appeal the judge’s decision.

He was advised to seek a speedy hearing at the Court of Appeal, as his client is facing a potential prison sentence.

Judge Prince told Mr Comb: “He has to expect that this will attract an effective custodial sentence.

“I would not want to proceed to sentence to find the Court of Appeal disagreed with my judgement.”

He bailed Mitchell, of Dunscarr, Fencehouses, near Houghton-le-Spring, to return for sentence on January 24.

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