Mohammad T Azad

Profession: Physiotherapist

Registration Number: PH84684

Interim Order: Imposed on 11 Dec 2015

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 11/12/2015 End: 17:00 11/12/2015

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4BU

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

On 5 March 2015 at Nottingham Crown Court you were convicted of:

1. Sexual Assault

2. By reason of your conviction as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Physiotherapist is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The HCPC sent a Notice of Hearing to the Registrant’s registered  address on 01 October 2015. The Notice set out all the relevant  information about today’s proceedings. A copy of that notice was also  sent to HMP Lincoln where the Registrant was imprisoned. The Panel  was therefore satisfied that service had been effected in accordance  with the Rules.
Proceeding in absence

2. Miss Jones applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s  absence. She submitted that the Registrant was aware of this hearing  today and that he had responded to say that he would attend if he  was available. There is nothing before the Panel today which would  indicate that he would be likely to attend if the matter were to be  adjourned.

3. This Panel had regard to the HCPC Practice Note on proceeding in  absence and it has also accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

4. The Panel considered that it is appropriate to proceed in the absence  of the Registrant. It is unclear whether the Registrant is still in custody  but given that he received a 12 month custodial sentence he would be  expected to have been released on license by now. In any event, given  that the Registrant has previously communicated from prison if he  wished for this hearing to be adjourned he could have made such an  application. The Panel has considered that there is a strong public  interest in proceeding with this case and it also considered that given  the serious nature of the allegations it would be in the interest of justice  for this matter to proceed.

 Background

5. The Registrant practised as a physiotherapist. The Registrant was  convicted at Nottingham Crown Court of 1 count of sexual assault on  05 March 2015 and was sentenced on 01 May 2015 to 12 month’s  imprisonment; included on the adult barred list; ordered to sign the sex  offenders register for 10 years; and given a restraining order for 5  years.

6. At the relevant time the Registrant was employed by Nottingham  Healthcare Foundation Trust. The Registrant had attended at the home  of the complainant on a number of occasions to carry out  physiotherapy sessions which were entirely proper. On all occasions  bar the last, the complainant’s fiancé was present in the house.

7. On that occasion the Registrant twice placed his hand inside the bra of  the complainant without any physical or therapeutic justification. The  Registrant was convicted following a trial.

Decision on Conviction and Impairment

8. The Panel considered all the documentation before it and drew no adverse inference from the Registrant’s non-attendance. The Panel was satisfied on the basis of the Certificate of Conviction that the fact of the Conviction is properly made out. The Panel considered the circumstances surrounding the conviction. It considered that the sexual assault was a serious breach of trust. The seriousness of the conviction is reflected in the judge imposing a custodial sentence, placing the Registrant on the adult barred list, ordering him to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years and placing a restraining order on him for 5 years.

9. The Registrant’s conduct represented a significant departure from that which is acceptable from a registered Physiotherapist.  His behaviour represents a serious breach of trust. The sexual assault took place in the service user’s own home and as can be seen from the judge’s sentencing remarks it had a serious impact upon her. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s conviction contravened the following HCPC Standards of Conduct Performance and Ethics:

Standard 1 – You must act in the best interest of service users.
 Standard 13 – You must…. make sure that your behaviour does not  damage confidence in you or your profession. 

10. Notwithstanding that the Registrant self-referred, the Panel considered  that there is a risk of repetition of the behaviour identified in the  conviction given that the Registrant shows a lack of insight in that he  still denies the facts. The  Registrant breached the trust and  confidence placed in him by his service user and he has undermined  public confidence in the profession.

11. The Panel has taken into account that the purpose of these procedures  is not to punish or re-punish the practitioner for past misdoings but to  protect the public against the acts and omissions of those who are not  currently fit to practise.

12. The Registrant has damaged public confidence in him and his  professional conduct.  The Panel also considered that a finding of  current impairment was also required in the wider public interest. A  failure to make a finding in the above circumstances would  undermine  confidence in the profession and regulatory process and  would not uphold proper standards of behaviour.  In any event the  Registrant is  still serving his sentence imposed by the criminal court.

13. Accordingly, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to  Practise is currently impaired by reason of his conviction.

Decision on sanction

14. The Panel considered the submissions of Miss Jones and it had  regard to the written submissions of the Registrant. Miss Jones  also informed the Panel that the appeal of the criminal conviction  was heard and dismissed in the Court of Appeal on 28 July 2015.

15. In considering what, if any, sanction to impose, the Panel had  regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and the advice of the  Legal Assessor.

16. The Panel also took into account the HCPC’s Practice Note on  Conviction and Caution Allegations. In particular it noted:
Although inclusion on the sex offenders’ database is not a punishment, it is intended to secure public protection from those who have committed certain types of offences. Generally, Panels should regard it as incompatible with HCPC’s obligation to protect the public to allow a registrant to remain in or return to unrestricted practice whilst subject to a notification requirement as a sex offender.

17. The Panel took into account the mitigation that it could infer from the  papers, namely that this was the first time the Registrant was before  his regulator and prior to his conviction he was a man of good  character.  However, it also considered a number of aggravating  factors:  in particular, the Registrant denied the allegations and  was found guilty after trial. He maintains his innocence and he  demonstrates little if any remorse for his actions. The conviction is  particularly serious and demonstrates a significant departure from  acceptable standards. The sexual assault took place in the  complainant’s own home which particularly aggravates the breach of  trust that the service user placed in the Registrant.

18. Accordingly, given the seriousness and circumstances of this case to  take no action would be wholly inappropriate. The Panel also  considered that a Caution Order would not be appropriate as the  assault was deliberate and there is no insight or remorse. A Caution  Order, even for the maximum duration, is neither sufficient nor  proportionate and it would not maintain public confidence in the  profession.

19. The Panel then considered the imposition of a Conditions of Practice  Order. However, it excluded it as an available sanction on the grounds  that such an Order is inappropriate where there is no evidence of  insight. Above all such an Order requires confidence to be placed in  the Registrant and due to the serious breach of trust and that he is still  subject to a sentence of imprisonment, a Conditions of Practice Order  is neither appropriate nor proportionate.

20. The Panel then went on to consider the imposition of a Suspension  Order. Such an order would provide public protection in that the  Registrant would be unable to practise as a physiotherapist for a period  of time. During any period of suspension a registrant would be  expected to be able to develop insight and remedy his behaviour.  However, the Registrant has not provided this Panel with any evidence  such that it could conclude that the conduct would not occur again.

21. His conviction for such serious matters fundamentally undermines  public confidence in the profession and breaches fundamental tenets  of the profession. The Panel therefore considered that a Suspension  Order would be inappropriate. The Panel were particularly concerned  with the Registrant’s continued denial of the sexual assault and his  latest communications to the HCPC demonstrate his continuing lack of  understanding of the significance of his conviction for a sexual offence.

22. The Panel considered that the only appropriate and proportionate  sanction is one of striking off. Such a sanction will maintain public  confidence in the profession. Further a Striking Off Order will send out  a clear message to the profession and the public. To impose any lesser  sanction would undermine confidence in the profession and the  regulatory process.

23.  A Striking Off Order prohibits the Registrant from practising in his  chosen profession as a physiotherapist; however, the Panel concluded  that the public interest in maintaining confidence in the profession  outweighs the Registrant’s right to practice in his profession. 

Order

The Panel directed the Registrar to strike the name of Mr Mohammad T Azad from the Register.

Notes

An interim suspension order was imposed to cover the  28 day appeal period.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mohammad T Azad

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
11/12/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
12/10/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
22/07/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
02/07/2015 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Adjourned