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Married psychiatrist had sex with a patient in his office and gave her a handkerchief doused in his aftershave so she would have a ‘piece of him’ during two-year affair, tribunal hears
By Amie Gordon
July 10, 2019

Psychiatrist Timothy Byrne

Isle of Man Psychiatrist Timothy Byrne

A married consultant psychiatrist had sex with a patient in his office and kissed her during home visits as they had a two-year-long affair, a tribunal heard today.

Father-of-one Dr Timothy Byrne gave the woman a handkerchief doused in his aftershave as a ‘piece of him’ and ‘keepsake’ of their romance, telling her to ‘smell it whenever he was not available to support’ her, it was claimed.

The patient, a former bank clerk and mother-of-one, allegedly said she felt like a ‘teenager’ as the pair swapped texts and emails.

Dr Byrne is Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at Nobles
Hospital on the Isle of Man.

His trysts were almost uncovered when he accidentally sent his wife a text intended for his alleged mistress.

But after successfully ‘calming down’ his wife he suggested the illicit relationship should continue, the tribunal heard.

He was ultimately referred to the General Medical Council after the woman, 51, ended the alleged relationship and told her new therapist of their encounters.

The woman, who had suffered childhood abuse, was referred to Dr Byrne in 2003 after suffering depression following the birth of her son.

In 2007 he began giving her psychiatric treatment and she ‘became
dependent on him.’

The doctor twice carried out sex acts on the woman in his rooms before the affair ended in June 2013, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester heard.

GMC counsel Thomas Moran said the doctor was seeing the patient three times a week by October 2011.

He said: ‘Outside these times there was a lot of contact between them over text and email. She felt he was the only meaningful person in her life, apart from her son.

‘She lost the ability to put boundaries to what was appropriate to share with him. It’s not possible to say exactly when it become a more physical relationship, but it appears to be around the early to mid 2011 when she said to him: “Why do you never touch me”.

‘He then took hold of her hand and hugged her at the end of the session and the relationship became more affectionate. He would hold her hand, stroke her ear, play with her ear lobes and stroke her face with his hand.

Mr Moran said Dr Byrne let himself into the woman’s home and gave her a scarf and a handkerchief and in 2012, ‘kissed her during a home visit after asking her to sit beside him on the sofa’.

He added: ‘She felt this was a relationship and that he loved her and she felt she had been kissed the way she had been kissed when she was a teenager. The sexual contact then progressed more intimately.’

Byrne who lives in Ramsey on the Isle of Man, denies misconduct and insists his relationship with the patient was ‘appropriate and professional at all times’

Both parties had a partner and children which the patient said she ‘deeply regretted.’

Mr Moran added: ‘Dr Byrne’s wife became suspicious about him being home later than usual and wearing aftershave. He also sent a text message to his wife which was intended for Patient A. His wife asked him about it, and he asked Patient A to delete all the texts and emails between them.

‘He then told her at the next appointment that he managed to calm his wife down and they could carry on, but it would have to be more carefully. Patient A said that episode served as a reality check and made her realise the relationship was wrong and there was no further sexual intimacy.’

Patient A told the hearing: ‘He was doing the things he was doing with my best interests to help me and support me and show that he accepted me. He said ‘I care for you as if you were my daughter and I will do my best to help you’.

‘I read it as in a romantic way. I said to him ‘Why do you never touch me’. And then after the session he hugged me.

‘There was hand holding and stroking of my face. He didn’t say he wasn’t allowed to, he didn’t say we couldn’t. He did comfort me by touching me.

‘Something was happening that shouldn’t have been happening, I didn’t refer to it in my journals or emails as I didn’t want people finding out. I was frightened of people finding out. I was in emotional turmoil as a result of this.

‘I had a feeling it was wrong and that’s what we were doing, he was the only person I spoke to, nobody knew for fear of risk.’

The woman said her sexual feelings towards the doctor began to ‘consume’ her despite knowing what they were doing ‘was wrong.’

She added: ‘It became turbulent and I kept the secret as I felt my mental health was deteriorating.

‘We were both careful about how we spoke in writing, we never met at weekend and we just had conversations by text.’

Byrne who lives in Ramsey on the Isle of Man, denies misconduct and insists his relationship with the patient was ‘appropriate and professional at all times .

He claimed Patient A had kissed him during one of their meetings but he failed to record it in his medical notes.

The hearing continues.