Children’s doctor Myles Bradbury has been jailed for 22 years after admitting he abused 18 boys in his care - described by the judge as “one of the worst forms of sexual abuse imaginable”.

The 41-year-old, of The Street, Herringswell, Suffolk, worked as a paediatric consultant haematologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where he carried out medical examinations on boys "purely for his own sexual gratification", Cambridge Crown Court heard.

He filmed some of them using a spy pen and abused others behind a curtain while their parents were in the room.

Bradbury pleaded guilty to 25 offences, including sexual assault, voyeurism and possessing more than 16,000 indecent images, against boys aged between 10 and 16, and was sentenced today (Monday).

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said Bradbury's sentence would be reduced because of his early guilty pleas although "some might observe" that the overwhelming evidence against him meant he had little choice but to admit the offences.

Describing Bradbury as "manipulative", he added: "For a doctor to attack children in this way is one of the worst forms of sexual abuse imaginable."

The judge continued: "These boys were all vulnerable and gravely ill.

"In all my years on the bench, I have never come across such a grotesque betrayal of your Hippocratic oath.

"There are almost too many aggravating factors to list in your prolonged carefully, planned and cruel abuse.

"It is implicit in what you did for your own sexual gratification that you were targeting the most vulnerable, sick children."

He added that he had no doubt Bradbury had caused "serious psychological" harm to his victims and there was a risk he would do so in future but said the doctor's recognition of his deviancy meant the risk could be managed.

Prosecutor John Farmer said the defendant had a "longstanding, unlawful, sexual interest in boys".

He added: "The defendant, through the trust he had acquired, circumvented the procedures and encourages a number of young patients to see him alone.

"It was in these circumstance under the guise of legitimate examinations he went entirely beyond the bounds."

He abused the boys "for his own personal gratification".

"On some occasions, when he failed to exclude the parent, he simply carried on behind the curtain behind which the boy had gone to remove his clothes."

The offences took place over four and a half years, beginning within six months of him taking up his post in 2008 and continuing to the day he was suspended when the first concerns were raised.

At some point, he began using a camera pen in an attempt to gain images of the boys when partially clothed, Mr Farmer added.

Police found 170,425 images on this pen but none of these were classed as indecent.

Mr Farmer explained Bradbury was first arrested in December 2013 after police were alerted by Canadian authorities that he had bought a DVD containing indecent images of children as part of Operation Spade.

At that point Cambridgeshire police were already investigating after concerns were raised about his conduct.

Mr Farmer said the offences were a "grave breach of trust" which had undermined the trust of patients.

Bradbury, who, the court heard, was also involved in church and Scout groups, was described as "a man of great charm and persuasiveness" whom everybody trusted.

When one victim raised concerns with his mother, she responded: "He's a doctor, it must be necessary."

Mr Farmer said: "That was the very image that really protected him from anything other than the most persistent line of complaint."

In mitigation, Angela Rafferty said Bradbury's guilty pleas had spared his victims the ordeal of giving evidence in court.

She added: "Clearly on a human level something has gone very badly wrong in this man's life and thought processes."

Ms Rafferty added that he accepted what he did was "repugnant".

"He knows he will not get any understanding or forgiveness because what he did was unforgivable," she said.