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Ian Paterson's breast operations were unnecessary, Nottingham Crown Court foundGetty

A rogue breast surgeon who "played God" by carrying out unnecessary operations is facing imprisonment after being convicted of grievous bodily harm. Police fear there could be more than 1,000 victims.

Breast cancer specialist Ian Paterson was convicted of 20 counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The offences related to nine women and one man.

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard how the 59-year-old surgeon carried out extensive and life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason.

Paterson, it was said, would often exaggerate or plainly lie about the risk of cancer to the patient. Police suggested that the income derived from the treatment possibly funded his "luxurious lifestyle" which included a home in Florida and a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion in the UK.

Police believe that the true number of victims could be in the thousands with more than 700 patients having to be re-screened.

It was revealed that after unauthorised "cleavage-sparing" operations carried out by Paterson, 68 women developed a recurrence of breast cancer.

Paterson, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was granted conditional bail and will be sentenced in May.

Over the seven weeks of the trial, the jury heard from 10 victims, representing a sample of those the defendant had treated.

The crimes occurred between 1997 and 2011 and took place at the privately run Little Aston and Parkway hospitals in the West Midlands, as well as at NHS hospitals.

The NHS has paid £17.8m, including £9.5m in damages, over the claims after Paterson was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2012.

Frances Perks, who was one of his victims, was referred to him in 1994 after finding a lump in her breast.

Because of health concerns after losing her mother and sister to breast cancer she agreed to undergo a total of 27 biopsies and a mastectomy before she was told that none of the operations had been necessary.

She said, according to Sky News: "He would say there's something sinister, something doesn't look right and we need to remove it.

"You're going to be guided by what he tells you. And he'd always say 'and because of your family history this needs to be dealt with'."

West Midlands Police said they had received complaints from 240 patients. Although his motive was never revealed in court it is believed Paterson may have been driven by financial gain, they added.

Police said that Paterson had numerous buy-to-let properties in Cardiff and Manchester and privately educated his children.

Betrayed

Another of his victims, Debbie Douglas, who was present at court, told the BBC: "I thought I had the best of consultants. All these years down the line, I feel I've been betrayed.

"I feel like I've been mutilated. I thought my scars were a badge of honour. Now I find he has mutilated me and I have been through all of this for nothing.

"Thank God those brave people who spoke up in court have got the right verdict."

Chief Supt Mark Payne said: "The procedures carried out by Ian Paterson on vulnerable patients were unnecessary and caused physical suffering, scars and wounds.

"As a result of his greed and arrogance, many of the patients have suffered psychologically, believing they needed to undergo the procedures because they were at risk from breast cancer.

"Paterson was a controlling bully, who played God with people's lives so he could live a luxurious lifestyle."