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83-year-old British doctor jailed 30 months for sexual assault on Filipina DH

15 July 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap

Eastern magistrate Daniel Tang imposed the highest penalty on the sleazy doctor 

An 83-year-old retired British doctor showed no emotion as he was sentenced to 30 months in jail today, Jul 15, for two counts of indecent assault against his former Filipina domestic worker, in one of the harshest penalties ever imposed in a magistrate’s court.

Brian Drew Apthorp, who has been in custody since being found guilty of the offences on Jul 2, was meted the sentence by Eastern Court Magistrate Daniel Tang, after going over background and psychological reports on the accused.


The prominent doctor's fall from grace began in March this year when he pleaded not guilty to two charges involving sordid sexual assaults against his former house help, CB, from September 2018 to April 2019. He initially conducted his own defense, but hired a private counsel just before the magistrate was set to end the trial and render judgment.

His sentence was welcomed by a solicitor helping CB pursue a civil claim for compensation against Apthorp, and an application for judicial review against the decision by the police and the prosecution not to charge the defendant with the more serious offence of human trafficking.

Tsao is helping the victim pursue compensation from Apthorp

“Given the jurisdiction limit, I think the magistrate’s sentence expresses his indignation towards the gravity of the offences committed and sends a firm message against sexual predators who exploit domestic helpers for their vulnerability,” said Evelyn Tsao, partner at solicitors firm Patricia Ho and Associates.

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The law firm had earlier disclosed that among the objects seized by the police from the retired doctor’s house in Shouson Hill were his computer files with videos showing him engaging in sexual acts with his previous domestic workers.

Cynthia Tellez, general manager of the Mission for Migrant Workers, also expressed satisfaction at the magistrate’s sentence, saying it would help encourage other abused workers to speak up.


Pinatutunayan nito na kahit inabot ng ilang buwan bago nagreklamo ang biktima, hindi ibig sabihin nito na pumayag siya sa ginagawa sa kanya,” said Tellez. (This proves that even if it took the victim a few months to complain, it did not mean she had consented to what was being done to her).

Malaking bagay ito para magkaroon din ng tapang ang iba na magreklamo laban sa pang-aabusong ginagawa sa kanila.” (This will go a long way in helping others to gather enough courage to complain about the abuse being committed against them).

Tellez says the victim's failure to seek help immediately is not acquiescence

During mitigation, Apthorp’s personal doctor, Dr John Simon, was allowed to testify on a long list of ailments afflicting the defendant, including his having a pacemaker, enlarged prostate, blocked coronary arteries and high cholesterol levels.


“I think it will be very, very difficult for him to cope with prison,” said Simon, in response to a question by defense counsel Jonathan Midgley.

But Magistrate Tang was not swayed by the testimony. After a short break, he announced that he was sentencing Apthorp to 18 months in jail for each of the two indecent assault charges, to run consecutively. The 36-month starting point is the maximum sentence that a magistrates’ court could impose on a defendant.


But in line with the totality principle, three months of the sentence were ordered to run concurrently, while a further three months were deducted due to Apthorp’s old age and medical condition.

The magistrate instructed the Correctional Services Department to make special arrangements for Apthorp, given his age and medical condition.

Midgley immediately asked for bail pending appeal, citing the “unusual” fact that Apthorp had chosen to defend himself initially during the trial, but the magistrate rejected the application, saying there was no sufficient ground to allow it.

Outside court, Midgley said he would pursue the application for bail pending appeal. He would also look into whether an application for a retrial could be pursued, since the doctor was not represented during the crucial stages of the trial.

The defense counsel drew the ire of some Filipinas who were in court when he suggested that CB’s failure to put an immediate stop to Apthorp’s sexual assaults was “insulting to Filipino women.”

Midgley said, “There’s no fool like an old fool. All it took was for Ms X to say, ‘No,” He further suggested that it was the failure of the victim to protest that left the elderly defendant in the dire situation he was in.

Long-time Filipino community leader Josie Pingkihan was outraged by the suggestion, saying it was victim-blaming.

“Being a professional and a doctor at that, it was the employer who caused all the problems to himself because he took advantage of the vulnerability of the helper,” Pingkihan said.

She welcomed the harsh sentence imposed on the offender, saying it would encourage other domestic workers who find themselves in the same situation to fight back.

In an earlier interview after the verdict, CB said she was happy that justice was served her. She said she decided to complain about the sexual assaults, not just for herself but for all the other domestic workers Apthorp had abused before her.

In her court testimony, CB spoke of the incident on Sept 11, 2018 when Apthorp fondled her breasts and inserted his fingers and an instrument in her genitals in the guise of performing a medical check-up on her.

After that, the octogenarian ordered CB to give him daily massages while he lay on his bed, stark naked. He told CB to pinch his nipples and look into his eyes while he masturbated.

Later, he set aside a weekly “Whipping Thursday” when he told CB to whip his buttocks, penis and other parts of his body while he stood naked in front of a mirror in his bedroom.

When she tried to resist, CB said Apthorp punished her by making her do hard physical tasks, like cutting and pulling off all the bamboo trees in his garden, then hauling them up several flights of stairs so she could dump them by the roadside.

All these incidents, which happened between November 2018 and April 2019, made up the second charge of indecent assault filed against Apthorp.

CB managed to escape in April 2019 when Apthorp left Hong Kong for his annual six-month vacation in France. She complained to the police with the assistance of the NGO, Help for Domestic Workers.

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