NHS East of England Ambulance Service paramedic jailed for sexual assault of patients

Published
image copyrightTerry-Harris.com
image captionAndrew Wheeler was convicted of six sexual offences last month

A paramedic who raped a patient in her own home and sexually assaulted another in the back of an ambulance has been jailed for 21 years.

Andrew Wheeler, 46, "abused the privilege and trust that wearing an NHS uniform brings", prosecutors said.

Police believe his career choice was "influenced by the access... to potentially vulnerable" people.

At Peterborough Crown Court, Wheeler, of Warboys in Cambridgeshire, was convicted of six sexual offences.

At his trial, which ended last month, the jury found him guilty of the rape and sexual assault of two women, and two counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 13, who was not a patient.

After Wheeler's conviction, police said it was "feasible" there may be other victims who had yet to come forward.

image copyrightTerry-Harris.com
image captionWheeler's offences spanned nearly a decade

At the time of the offences, Wheeler was working for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), which serves six counties.

The trial heard Wheeler, of Mill Green, was on duty in a single-crew rapid response car when he was called to help a woman who was drunk and had collapsed at a friend's house.

Wheeler sent away two other paramedics who arrived together in an ambulance, assuring them he had things under control.

He drove the woman to her own house where he raped and sexually assaulted her.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said: "I have no faith in the NHS and I've avoided seeing a paramedic and attending the hospital just because of what happened."

She said she has flashbacks, adding: "I couldn't handle dealing with life. I became a recluse."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionAndrew Wheeler worked for the East of England Ambulance Service

Wheeler also raped a second woman when she was not a patient, and sexually assaulted her in the back of his ambulance when she was a patient a year later.

In mitigation, Wheeler's barrister Jennifer Dempster QC said he had no previous convictions and was someone who has done a "great deal of positive work in his life".

Sentencing him, Judge Matthew Lowe said Wheeler had an "arrogance and a belief that he was untouchable and protected, as he saw it, by his paramedic's uniform".

He said Wheeler would never work as a paramedic or in a similar capacity again, adding he had shown "not a shred of remorse".

"He's demonstrated that he's a manipulative sexual predator, willing to exploit for his own gratification the vulnerabilities of three separate [victims]," he said.

Wheeler was also made the subject of an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

He had been suspended by ambulance service in 2018 and dismissed in September 2019 when he was charged.

After his conviction, EEAST said it "took action to report, suspend and ultimately dismiss this individual when allegations came to light".

Wheeler was cleared of seven other charges and prosecutors said they would not seek a retrial on five further charges which the jury could not reach verdicts on.

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk

More on this story