A liver surgeon has admitted assault by beating after burning his initials into the livers of two transplant patients with a laser beam.

Consultant Simon Bramhall branded "SB" on the organs of a man and a woman undergoing transplant operations at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The 53-year-old has admitted two counts of assault by beating at Birmingham Crown Court but pleaded not guilty to alternative charges of assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH).

On Wednesday (13 December) the court heard how Bramhall used an argon beam coagulator to burn his initials in February and August 2013.

Bramhall, a liver, spleen and pancreas surgeon, was suspended from his role after the branding was discovered by another surgeon.

The court heard that of the two patients one cannot be named for legal reasons and the other victim remains unknown.

The pair were under anaesthetic, and although the burning is not usually harmful and normally disappears, reported BBC News.

But it is alleged that a female patients liver did not heal itself in the normal way and the "SB" initials were found in a follow-up operation.

Prosecuting Tony Badenoch QC said the case was "highly unusual and complex", adding that Bramhall's admissions "represent an acceptance that that which he did was not just ethically wrong but criminally wrong".

"They reflect the fact that Dr Bramhall's initialling on a patient's liver was not an isolated incident but rather a repeated act on two occasions, requiring some skill and concentration," he said according to Sky News.

"It was done in the presence of colleagues. It was an intentional application of unlawful force to a patient whilst anaesthetised.

"His acts in marking the livers of those patients were deliberate and conscious acts."

Bramhall, who now works at Hereford County Hospital, resigned after a disciplinary hearing with University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust in May 2014.

Bramhall denied the ABH charge, a plea which was accepted by prosecutors and he will be sentenced at the court on 12 January.

The defendant, who has received a formal warning from the General Medical Council (GMC), faces a maximum penalty of six months in prison in addition to a fine.