AN NHS radiographer who illegally accessed the personal records of more than 200 female patients before pestering them for dates has denied his crimes were sexually motivated.

Andrew Stewart, 32, worked at hospitals in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire where he dealt with hundreds of patients.

He used his position to look up files of women he had been treating before hounding them with a string of messages on Facebook and WhatsApp in a desperate bid to get into relationships with them.

He provided fake names including Andy Smith and Jamie Scott to protect his identity and called various women 'hot', 'gorgeous' and even complimented one on her 'nice boobs'.

He also sent photos of himself and in one message told a woman he was mature 'when it comes to pleasing women in bed.'

Stewart, of Fenwick, Ayrshire, had earlier appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court and admitted two charges of obtaining personal data of 32 named women and others without a clinical or medical reason to do so.

He also pled guilty to a further 16 charges of acting in a threatening and abusive manner to women he had contacted between March 2013 and August 2018.

However when he returned to court for sentencing, his solicitor Philip Cohen told Sheriff Thomas Millar that Stewart denied getting any sexual gratification from contacting the women.

Mr Cohen added that Stewart felt 'lonely' and had been drinking when he messaged the unsuspecting women. 

A further hearing will now take place where the sheriff will rule if there was any 'significant sexual element' to Stewart's behaviour.

If it is found that there was, Stewart faces being put on the sex offenders' register.

Mr Cohen said: "It is my client's position that this offence was not committed to achieve any kind of sexual gratification at all.

"There was very little in the conversations that could be described as sexual or significantly sexual.

"It is his position that he embarked on these conversations as a result of feeling loneliness and feeling alone.

"In terms of him actually intending to have proper relationships with these women it is his position that that would not happen and did not happen.

"The motivation here was not sexual.

"He has though accepted what he has done is criminal and will be punished for that. He has lost his job and there is no chance of him being allowed to continue and his career is over."

Deferring sentence further, Sheriff Millar told Stewart's lawyer: "He has deliberately targeted these women of a certain age and made these comments to them.

"There is a potential for notification requirements in this case.

"He was commenting about women having nice boobs, being hot and being gorgeous. How can that not be sexual in nature?

"We will need to have an evidential hearing about this if that is being denied by your client."

The court had previously heard how his crimes were uncovered when a woman he had been messaging recognised him at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock and reported it.

A massive probe was launched within the NHS leading to hundreds of patients receiving letters saying that their data had been breached.

It was discovered that Stewart, who also worked at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, had even offered to tell one female patient the results of her MRI scan before she had spoken to her consultant.

In total he had accessed around 220 patient files illegally.

When arrested by police over the matter, Stewart told officers: "I wasn't trying to achieve anything, I had no motive. This is just, I don't know how to describe this, it's loneliness if you must know, loneliness."

He will return to court in March and his bail was continued.