Perth psychiatrist jailed for attempting to pervert the course of justice

Stock image.
Stock image.

AN experienced Perth psychiatrist who had a sexual relationship with a patient then tried to convince her not to co-operate with authorities during disciplinary proceedings against him, has been sentenced to one year in prison.

Peter David McCarthy, 68, was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice in April last year when he urged the woman, who cannot be named, not to co-operate with the State Administrative Tribunal.

He also had other conversations with her in the preceding two years about the same issue, the West Australian District Court heard on Thursday.

Judge Alan Troy described it as a “profound fall from grace” for the psychiatrist who was previously of exemplary good character.

“The physical contact began slowly and comparatively innocuously with the exchange of hugs, but then progressed to her effectively doting on you in a manner which I find you would have enjoyed before progressing to a regular sexualised relationship,” the judge said.

“I have no doubt that she was far more enthralled in you than you were in her and was far keener on the relationship continuing.”

Judge Troy said McCarthy tried to end the relationship and after a complaint was made about his conduct the psychiatrist provided the woman with “various strategies” to avoid participating in the tribunal proceedings.

“You were endeavouring to persuade a witness of truth not to participate in the disciplinary proceedings, which in the event of adverse findings against you had potentially disastrous professional consequences for you,” the judge said.

“This was, I find, sustained and detailed pressuring of the key witness in a case against you, who you knew, of course, to be somewhat fragile and vulnerable.

“It went way beyond merely telling her not to sign a witness statement.”

McCarthy will be eligible for parole after serving six months behind bars.