Occupational therapist Gagandeep Sharman jailed after sexual attacks including on a pensioner in her Stratford home
A Stratford woman who was sexually assaulted by an occupational therapist in her own home has urged other potential victims to see help.
Speaking exclusively to the Herald, the woman who is her 60s and lives towards Old Town, was speaking after her assailant was jailed last week. We are calling her Mrs B to protect her identity.
Gagandeep Sharman had originally denied three charges of sexual assault involving two victims, Mrs B and a nurse who was his work colleague – but finally pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to one offence against each woman.
Sharman, 37, of Saumur Way, Warwick, was jailed for 26 months, ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years, and given a restraining order banning him from contacting the women.
Mrs B described how Sharman came to her home in his professional role as an occupational therapist to assess the needs of her husband, who is in his 70s and has a variety of health conditions.
When Sharman turned up in March 2019, Mrs B let him in, and she said that while he was dealing with her husband that morning, he acted in a completely professional manner.
But a few hours later he returned, claiming he had left his phone behind. Ignoring her assurance that she would look for it, he barged past her and forced his way into the house.
While her husband slept upstairs Sharman launched a sexual assault on Mrs B.
“He had turned into a brute,” she told the Herald. “He trapped me in our vestibule by the front door and pressed against me, and was sexually aroused.”
Mrs B suffers from a blood condition and physical injury could cause her to bleed to death.
“I thought if I fight with him I could die, and my immediate thought was who would look after my husband, so I tried to mediate with him – something I had done professionally.
“He wouldn’t listen. But when he tried to pull my pants down I felt a surge of adrenaline, pushed him away and shouted at him to stop, and also for my husband to wake up.”
After a struggle Mrs B managed to break free, at which he told her ‘I need you’ and began touching himself through his clothing as he made a grab for her again.
Eventually when her husband managed to come downstairs, Sharman calmed down and asked to use the toilet before leaving.
The couple are still traumatised by the events two years on. Mrs B has been hospitalised with anxiety attacks, wears a rape alarm, and it is only in the last year that she has felt able to leave the house.
Immediately following the incident Mrs B says she “had a bath and scrubbed herself almost raw trying to feel clean”. She was initially reluctant to call the police – and after she eventually did so, CPS lawyers decided not to charge Sharman.
Mrs B says she understood that there was little evidence for the CPS to easily secure a prosecution, but she was terrified he would assault someone else, and was desperate to protect further vulnerable people from Sharman.
She said: “I wanted him stopped and to be taken off the professional register. I thought he mustn’t be allowed to go into houses through his work where someone might be immobile or can’t speak, and can’t yell out. That was my terror.”
As a result of her pleas, his employers stopped Sharman visiting people in their homes and confined him to working at a clinic and at the Leamington Rehabilitation Hospital.
But he then went on to sexually assault a nurse at work. Later that year, 2019, he hounded the young woman, making innuendo, touching her inappropriately before launching a sexual assault.
In court Sharman, who said he had never had a sexual relationship, said he had since received counselling and wanted to apologise to the two women for not admitting his guilt earlier.
However Mrs B said although she had been offered the chance of receiving an apology from Sharman she refused. “I was too angry that a professional person would take advantage in the way that he did,” she said. “Secondly I didn’t know how I would react. That’s when I thought I had to face him in court. For the first year I didn’t leave the house, but then I realised that when I left the house I was looking for him.
“I looked at him in court but he didn’t dare look at me.”
After seeing Sharman sent down, Mrs B says she is relieved but shattered. “Seeing him face to face has been a big part of moving on. I wanted him on sex register and stopped him doing his job. I hadn’t though about a custodial sentence, but it has made me feel much better.”
Mrs B’s thoughts are still with other people that have encountered Sharman. She said: “Stratford was his area. My suspicion is he won’t have begun with me. In my mind you don’t just begin at 35. I just hope if anyone sees his face or recognises his name and thinks that they have been a victim, then they should get help. You don’t necessarily have to go to the police and report it as a crime. Safeline support victims and have been absolutely brilliant for me.”
For help visit www.safeline.org.uk or call Warwickshire Safeline on 0808 800 5008