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Man jailed after assaulting Bury St Edmunds GP at her surgery

Steven Cook
Steven Cook

A man who blamed a Bury St Edmunds GP for the death of his father burst into her surgery and assaulted her, a court has heard.

Steven Cook, 41, repeatedly punched Dr Victoria Hunter in the face, leaving her needing stitches to her lip, and with bruising and a displaced tooth.

At Ipswich Crown Court, Cook, of Devon Close, Bury St Edmunds, was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.

The court heard that Cook shouted 'you killed my dad' before striking Dr Hunter up to five times in the face.

The incident at the Victoria Surgery on June 18 resulted in Dr Hunter being knocked to the ground where Cook continued his attack, said Russell Butcher, prosecuting.

As well as the physical injuries I suffered, the attack left me feeling frightened and vulnerable – something I never expected to feel when I became a GP - Dr Victoria Hunter

Dr Hunter said in a statement that the psychological effects of the attack would be longer with her than the physical injuries she suffered.

Cook's father, who was a patient of Dr Hunter, died in hospital nine days before the attack, the court heard.

Appearing for Cook, Stephen Mather said his client, who had been in custody since the attack, now regretted what he had done.

Judge John Devaux sentenced Cook to 20 months imprisonment.

The judge also granted a restraining order prohibiting Cook from contacting Dr Hunter or going to her surgery for the next five years.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Dr Hunter said: "It is difficult to put into words how shocking and frightening it was to have someone throw open the door of my room, whilst I was consulting with another patient, come towards me, and strike me repeatedly.

"As well as the physical injuries I suffered, the attack left me feeling frightened and vulnerable – something I never expected to feel when I became a GP.

"The vast majority of patients are lovely people who are very grateful for the care we provide and I am determined to try and put this horrible incident behind me and move on."

Dr Christopher Browning, chairman of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "This was an absolutely appalling attack and I welcome the court’s recognition of this in its treatment of the case.

"The NHS has a zero tolerance policy towards attacks on its staff, all of whom are dedicated professionals who work extremely hard for their communities.

"There are no possible circumstances that could ever justify or excuse such a horrific assault on a GP in her own surgery, whatever the perpetrator may have thought.

"The fact this dreadful incident happened in front of another patient during a private appointment makes it all the more diabolical.

"Dr Hunter is a kind, caring and conscientious GP and the care she provided to her assailant’s father was of the highest standard.

"NHS England has confirmed that it has no concerns whatsoever regarding the treatment she administered to him."