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GP Navin Zala on trial accused of sexually assaulting patients at Gravesend doctor's surgery

By KentOnline reporter

A GP who was convicted of sexually assaulting patients at his surgery also groped four other women over a 22-year period, a court has heard.

Navin Zala allegedly attacked the victims for his own sexual gratification by disguising the abuse as legitimate medical examinations.

He targeted three of the women at his surgery in Gravesend between 1985 and 2007, it is claimed. He also fondled the breasts of a fourth victim after she went for a medical at Queen Mary Hospital, Sidcup, during the 1980s, jurors heard.

Navin Zala
Navin Zala

The 68-year-old claims the four new complainants have "mistakenly come forward" because of publicity surrounding the previous case.

Zala qualified as a doctor in 1975 and got a job at the Marling Way Surgery, which closed in 2011, soon after completing his GP training in 1982.

The four women came forward after the GP was convicted in June 2013 of 10 counts of indecent assault against former patients between 1985 and 1991, the Old Bailey heard.

Prosecutor Vivian Walters said: “The crown allege Mr Zala used his job as a doctor to sexually assault the four females in this case.

“Three of these women were patients and the offences took place at the surgery in the guise of intimate medical examinations.

“The fourth complainant attended the Queen Mary Hospital for a medical.

“The doctor who conducted that examination was this defendant. The assault was disguised as part of a legitimate medical examination.”

The Old Bailey
The Old Bailey

The first alleged victim claimed she was repeatedly groped by the doctor between the ages of 17 and 25.

She described the doctor as "having a good feel" during breast examinations.

Miss Walters said: “This was opportunistic abuse.”

Zala allegedly sexually assaulted the second victim during intimate examinations of her genitals between 1985 and 1991.

When she came forward to police she passed on the contact details of the third alleged victim, the court heard.

The third woman claimed she was aged 14 or 15 when Zala groped her breasts after she went to see him about a sore throat.

Zala allegedly asked her if she was a virgin before putting his hand inside her bra, jurors heard.

The Old Bailey in London. Picture: Google Street View
The Old Bailey in London. Picture: Google Street View

The fourth alleged victim told police she went to Queen Mary’s for a medical after applying for a nursing job in the late ‘80s.

Zala allegedly used both hands to touch her breasts during the examination.

She came forward to police after seeing his photo in the paper following his conviction.

Ms Walters told the jury: “Just because he has been convicted of sexually or indecently assaulting other patients not the subject of this trial, it doesn’t automatically follow he is guilty of these offences.

“Indeed it is the defence’s case the previous convictions and the publicity surrounding them has caused the claimants in this case to mistakenly come forward to give evidence.”

Zala, of no fixed address but formerly of Marling Way, Gravesend, denies six counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault.

Jurors were told this is a retrial after an earlier jury failed to reach verdicts.

The trial continues.

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