A male nurse, who sexually abused two vulnerable women mental health patients in his care at a hospital near Radlett, has been jailed

Care manager Alan Taylor, 51, was given 12 and a half years for the attacks and has been banned from working in care.

At his sentencing at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, Judge Stephen Warner said: "You were in a position of trust and responsibility. You systematically abused that position. You took advantage of the most vulnerable members of society for you own sexual gratification."

The women, who are both now aged 32, were abused by the male nurse between 2005 and 2007 in the hospital. He had previously been warned about his behaviour towards patients in 1999.

Prosecutor Simon Ash told the court that Taylor had taken one woman to his room in the hospital grounds and had sex with her twice. On others occasions he groped her in a courtyard area.

Paper was placed over the observation window of the second woman while Taylor had sex with her while he was on a night shift. That happened on two or three occasions. He also took her out to woods where he touched her breasts and had sex with her. He molested her and got her to touch him in a cupboard in the hospital.

Taylor, of of Centaurus Square, St Albans, was found guilty of five counts of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder on Friday.

He has been banned from working as a carer by the Nursing and Midwivery Council, must register as a Sex Offender for life and abide by the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Detective Constable Kelly Adams, who led the investigation said: "Alan Taylor is a despicable man who preyed on one of the most vulnerable groups of young women in society.

"He was supposed to care for them, but instead took advantage of their situations for his own sexual gratification. This case has been one of the most emotionally and mentally taxing cases we have dealt with- not only because of the nature of the offences, but because the victims were extremely vulnerable.

"I would like to thank all of the victims and their support workers for their bravery and integrity helping us to bring this case to court and for giving evidence throughout this case which has been harrowing and extremely difficult for them.

"We hope that the verdicts passed today and sentences given will reflect the severity of Alan Taylor’s appalling actions and give hope to victims of sexual offences that justice can and will be done and the perpetrators of such crimes will be dealt with."

A spokesman from the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Our thoughts are with the vulnerable women in this appalling case, as well as their families.

"Alan Taylor's actions were completely unacceptable. He betrayed the position of trust he held and we do not tolerate such behaviour."

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service said: "This case involved the sexual assault of women by a care manager. The position of trust held by the care manager, and the vulnerability of the victims at the time of the abuse greatly increases the seriousness of these already grave offences.

"It is only due to the great courage and persistence of the victims that the despicable behaviour of this nurse at the residential hospital has been exposed. I would like to pay tribute to the victims and witnesses in this case for their strength and tenacity in coming forward and giving evidence on matters which must still have been extremely distressing years after the events took place.

"Today’s sentence serves as an important message to people who have been the victim of crimes such as these that they should come forward regardless of when the offence occurred because time is not a barrier to justice. The CPS will work closely with partners, as we did with Hertfordshire Constabulary in this investigation, to ensure that robust criminal cases are put before the courts.

"The emotional impact on the victims of this nurse is impossible to quantify. I hope that the convictions and sentences gives some small comfort to the victims involved. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."