Andrew O'Grady

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT57753

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 25/06/2015 End: 16:00 25/06/2015

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

Allegations:

While registered as an Occupational Therapist.
1. On 21 January 2014 at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court you were convicted of assaulting Person A by beating her on 7 July 2013 at Cheltenham in the county of Gloucestershire contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

2. By reason of your conviction, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Background:

1. Mr O’Grady is a registered Occupational Therapist.

2. In the early hours of 7 July 2013 a group of three female friends were on a night out in Cheltenham. After leaving a night club, there was some sort of incident between one of the group and Mr O’Grady. Mr O’Grady kicked Person A, causing her to fall over and he then kicked her when she was on the floor. As a result of the assault Person A sustained a sore hip and a small scratch on her right hand.

3. The police subsequently arrested Mr O’Grady near where the assault had occurred. He was interviewed by the police and stated that he had drunk 7 or 8 pints and was drunk but not that drunk. He told the police that he had been assaulted, and had lashed out in self-defence and thought he had kicked someone.

4. Mr O’Grady was charged with assaulting Person A by beating, and he pleaded not guilty. After a trial he was convicted. He was sentenced to a Community Order for 12 months with a 150 hours unpaid work requirement. He was also ordered to pay £50 compensation, a £60 victim surcharge and £620 costs.

5. Mr O’Grady informed the HCPC of his conviction by letter that was received on 18 February 2014.

Decision on Facts:

6. Mr O’Grady accepted he was convicted and the Panel found the fact of Mr O’Grady’s conviction proved by this admission and by the production of the signed memorandum of conviction.

Decision on Impairment:

7. In reaching a decision on impairment the Panel took into account all the evidence presented, including Mr O’Grady’s evidence, and the submissions of Ms Hastie, on behalf of the HCPC,  and Mr O’Grady. The Panel took into account the HCPC Practice Notes “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired” and “Conviction and Caution Allegations”. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

8. The Panel noted that Mr O’Grady’s conviction was in breach of standard 3 of the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics which states that “You must keep high standards of personal conduct” and standard 13 which states that “You must … make sure your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession”.

9. Mr O’Grady told the Panel that after his conviction he continued to work as an Occupational Therapist and that he was supported by his employer who was aware of the conviction. However, he left his employment about six months ago as he felt that the frustrations he had with the court verdict was impacting on his work. Since then he has not been working in a health and social care setting.

10. Although Mr O’ Grady accepts he was convicted, it is clear from his evidence that he does not accept the correctness of the decision of the court, and at one stage in his evidence he stated that he was convicted because he was male and because of the way he looked.

11. The Panel accepts his evidence after his arrest that he sought help but Mr O’Grady did not provide evidence to support this statement. Nor has he produced any references or testimonials to his character.
12. In view of the fact that Mr O’Grady has sought to address his personal matters, the Panel is of the opinion that the chance of repetition of similar behaviour is reduced. However, in view of Mr O’Grady’s attitude to the court process, the Panel is not convinced that the risk of repetition has been totally eliminated. In this regard, the Panel was particularly disturbed by Mr O’Grady’s statement at this hearing that Person A “is someone who, I suspect, enjoys violence, has done this sort of thing before. I am certain she will do it again and will probably come to a sticky end as a consequence.”

13. Mr O’Grady has showed no remorse for his behaviour and the Panel has concluded that he has little, if any insight, into its impact on the reputation of the profession. The Panel has no doubt that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.

14. In all the circumstances, the Panel finds that Mr O’Grady’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of his conviction.

Decision on Sanction:
 
15. In coming to its own independent decision as to sanction, the Panel took into account all the evidence and the submissions made.

16. In deciding what sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel has reminded itself that the purpose of sanction is not to be punitive but to protect service users and the public interest, although there may be a punitive effect. The Panel has also taken into account the principle of proportionality, balancing the interests of the public with those of Mr O’Grady. It has also taken into account the HCPC’s Indicative Sanction Policy.


17. The case is too serious for the Panel to take no action or to arrange mediation as it involves an assault involving kicking. It is clear that Mr O’Grady does not accept that he kicked Person A whilst she was on the floor. For the avoidance of doubt the Panel makes it clear that it views any assault involving kicks seriously.

18. A Caution Order would not be appropriate as the Panel has concluded that Mr O’Grady has little or no insight.

19. The Panel then considered a Conditions of Practice Order. Mr O’Grady is not currently working in a health and social care setting and the Panel took the view that, whilst this does not prevent the Panel from imposing a Conditions of Practice Order the Panel, in this case could not formulate conditions that were appropriate, realistic and verifiable. In any event a Conditions of Practice Order would not adequately reflect the gravity of the offence.

20. The Panel then considered a Suspension Order. The Indicative Sanction Policy states:
“Suspension should be considered where the Panel considers that a caution or conditions of practice are insufficient or inappropriate to protect the public or where the allegation is of a serious nature but there is a realistic prospect that repetition will not occur and, thus, that striking off is not merited.”

21. Although the Panel has stated that the risk of repetition has not been totally eliminated, it considers that it is sufficiently low to justify the imposition of a Suspension Order. The Panel has no evidence to suggest that Mr O’Grady is not a competent Occupational Therapist and given that this assault is a single incident it considers that a Striking Off Order would be disproportionate and punitive.

22. The Suspension Order will demonstrate to Mr O’ Grady and the public that his behaviour was unacceptable. It will allow him further time to demonstrate that he is continuing to manage his issues and develop genuine insight into his behaviour. The Panel also hopes that Mr O’Grady will be able to come to terms with the finding of the court.

23. The maximum period for a Suspension Order is 12 months. However, in this case, the Panel wishes to acknowledge the steps Mr O’Grady has already taken to address his issues and considers that a Suspension Order for 9 months is appropriate and proportionate.

24. The Order will be reviewed shortly before it expires. It is entirely a matter for Mr O’Grady what evidence he wishes to present to the Panel reviewing the order but that Panel may be assisted by:

• Evidence that he is continuing to manage his issues.
• Evidence that he has accepted his wrongdoing and developed genuine insight.
• Testimonials as to his character from colleagues and/or employers.

Order

ORDER:


That the Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Andrew O’Grady for a period of 9 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

This Order comes into effect on 23 July 2015. An Interim Suspension Order was imposed to cover this period or an appeal period.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Andrew O'Grady

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
23/03/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing No further action
25/06/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended