A PERVERTED occupational health technician who abused his position of trust to sexually assault young men across Cumbria has been jailed.

Former police community support officer Marc Manning, 36, who once also worked as an ambulance technician, also secretly filmed men as they used a toilet in a gym, making at least three hundred such recordings, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Manning was jailed for four and a half years after he pleaded guilty to sexual assaults on nine victims and to two counts of voyeurism. 

The case was outlined in court as it emerged that Manning carried out his depraved “examinations” while working for a private health firm which was contracted to carry out occupational health checks across the North West.

The checks were commissioned by a regional employer. The assaults happened at various locations across the county – mostly in Carlisle but also in Kendal and in west Cumbria.

Prosecutor Harriet Lavin told the court that suspicions were raised in 2018 when workers revealed that Manning had been conducting so-called “hernia checks” on the men who sent to him.

“He was conducting checks which were not legitimate or required,” said the barrister. Yet, using those checks as a pretext, Manning sexually touched the victims.

“Hernia checks were not part of the standard health screening process, which ordinarily looked at issues such as blood pressure, eye sight, and weight. Urine samples were sometimes needed.

Some of the men spoke of feeling deeply uncomfortable at what had happened while others described Manning's behaviour as strange. On one occasion, Manning told a worker that the chemicals he worked with could transfer to his genitals.

This was yet another excuse to make an intimate examination, the court heard. On another occasion, when the room in which the examination was being conducted was hot, Manning suggested the worker take off his top.

The court heard that some workers reported seeing a mobile phone propped up in the room – and this raised suspicions that Manning was also filming the assaults.

No video footage was ever found to confirm this, but Judge Richard Archer said he had concluded that was Manning’s intention.

Anthony Parkinson, defending, said Manning had shown genuine remorse for his offences and had already taken steps to address his offending behaviour.

But Judge Archer said Manning abused his position of trust in a way that undermined the willingness of men generally to seek medical help from professionals.

“The extent to which your offending represents a gross breach of trust can not be overstated,” said the judge.

Normally, the previous good character of a defendant is regarded as a mitigating factor. But in Manning’s case, said the judge, it was an aggravating factor because this had allowed Manning to take a job which was a position of trust.

The defendant, of Glenmore Crescent, Thornton-Cleveleys, near Blackpool, was jailed for four and a half years and put on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely. When released, he will be subjected to a sexual harm prevention order.

Six of his victims were in court to see him sentenced, as were the defendant's parents.

This will mean he is barred from owning any camera and any digital device he owns will have to be subjected to strict monitoring and control.

After the case, Detective Constable Charlotte Jones, from North Cumbria’s Crime and Safeguarding Team, said: “All of the victims in this case have had health checks conducted on them which they presumed to be part of what Manning’s work should entail, but it in fact was not.

“Manning completely abused his position of trust subjecting his victims to sexual assaults for his own fulfilment. I would like to thank the victims in this case for coming forward and for their courage in reporting such a crime.

“We will not stop in our drive to bring offenders to justice and hopefully this outcome will help to encourage victims of sexual offences to have the confidence to come forward and report it.”

* If you wish to report a crime or speak to an officer about an incident, please contact Cumbria Police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

If you have been affected by rape or sexual assault, contact The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Service’s 24/7 free helpline on 0808 118 6432.’’

* More to follow of this story later today.