Vet nurse struck off after child grooming conviction
Unnamed predator thought they were messaging 15-year-old
A veterinary nurse has been struck off after being convicted of communicating with someone they believed to be aged under 16 for the purposes of sexual gratification.
The individual, who was granted anonymity in light of “the highly exceptional circumstances of this case”, appeared before the RCVS veterinary nurse disciplinary committee on Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 March 2021.
In granting anonymity, the committee accepted the evidence of a real and immediate threat to the individual’s security if their details were made public and they were referred to simply as ‘X’ throughout.
The committee heard that the individual pleaded guilty in court in 2020 and as a result they were sentenced to a two-year probation order, ordered to register on the Sexual Offences Register for five years, and made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.
The Committee then considered whether the conviction amounted to serious professional misconduct, laying out aggravating factors including:
- A risk of actual harm to a minor
- That the misconduct was premeditated as the respondent had sent a number of messages via a number of online platforms over several days
- That the individual displayed predatory behaviour including sending pictures and making comments of a sexual nature, and that it involved what the respondent believed to be a vulnerable individual, namely a 15-year-old child.
In mitigation, the Committee considered that there had been no actual harm caused in light of the fact that the 15-year-old child the respondent believed they were communicating with, was not real.
It also took into account that the conduct related to a single isolated incident and that the individual had made open and frank admissions at an early stage.
‘Unfit to practise’
Committee chair Cerys Jones, said: “The Committee was satisfied that the sentence imposed on X, which included X being subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order until 2025, resulted in the profession of veterinary nurses being brought into disrepute and, in the Committee’s judgement, public confidence in the profession would be undermined if the Committee did not find that the conviction rendered X unfit to practise as a veterinary nurse.”
The Committee also heard from a character witness who said that the respondent’s actions were out of character, that they had a previously long and unblemished career, that they had made full admissions and demonstrated insight, and that they had a low risk of reoffending in the future.
However, despite the fact the Committee “accepted that X had been an excellent veterinary nurse,” the aggravating factors “outweighed the considerable mitigating factors in this case”.
Cerys Jones added: “The Committee decided that a suspension order was not the appropriate sanction for such a serious offence because it did not reflect the gravity of X’s conduct.
“In the Committee’s judgement, the wider public interest, that is the maintenance of the reputation of the profession and the college as a regulator, required a sanction of removal from the Register.
“Further, the Committee noted that in circumstances where X’s probation order expired in 2022, and where the ancillary orders, a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and a requirement to register on the Sexual Offences Register did not expire until 2025; the only proportionate sanction was to direct the Registrar to remove X’s name from the Register of Veterinary Nurses.”
The full findings for the case can be found at: www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary