Mr Christopher P Daldorph

Profession: Radiographer

Registration Number: RA37848

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 01/02/2016 End: 17:00 01/02/2016

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

On 20 October 2015 at North Somerset Magistrates’ Court you were convicted of:

 

1. Making indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of child x 1

 

2. Making indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of child x 8

 

3. Possession of extreme pornographic images – act of intercourse/oral sex with dead/alive animal x 1

 

4. By reason of your convictions as set out at paragraphs 1 - 3 your fitness to practise as a Radiographer is impaired

Finding

Preliminary Matters

1. The Registrant is serving a sentence of 28 months imprisonment for downloading child pornography.  The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) produced a letter from the Registrant at HMP Dartmoor, which was received on 30 March 2016, in which he acknowledged the proceedings in this case, and a more recent proforma response document dated 21 December 2016, in which he indicated that he would not attend the final hearing or be represented.  He also admitted the fact of his conviction as set out in the allegation below. Having seen unredacted papers the Panel confirmed that service had been effected correctly.

2. Ms Amin for the HCPC therefore applied to proceed in his absence. She contended that proof of service showed that the Registrant was aware of the proceedings and had been notified of the date, time and location of this final hearing.  The Registrant had made no application to postpone proceedings or to attend via telephone or video link.  Ms Amin submitted it was in the public interest for the hearing to proceed.

3. Having considered the advice of the Legal Assessor and the updated HCPC Practice Note, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had received reasonable notice of the hearing. The Registrant had not applied for an adjournment and had indicated he would not attend the hearing. The Panel noted the overriding public interest in dealing with serious matters in a timely manner.  The Panel therefore considered that the matter should be heard in his absence.

Proceeding in private

4. The Panel noted the following request in the Registrant’s letter of 30 March 2016: “All I ask is that my wife’s wellbeing is considered if there is a decision to have proceedings taking place in private or publically”.  In fairness to the Registrant, the Panel decided to treat this as a formal application to hold the hearing in private and to apply the relevant principles in relation to such an application. 

5. The Panel considered the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Practice Note Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and the terms of Rule 10(1) of HCPC Procedure Rules, which provides as follows: “Proceedings shall be held in public unless the Committee is satisfied that, in the interests of justice or for the protection of the private life of the health professional, the complainant, any person giving evidence or of any client or patient, the public should be excluded from whole or part of the hearing.

6. The Panel noted that a spouse of the Registrant was not specifically named as one of those to be considered for the purpose of Rule 10(1).  In any event, the Registrant’s conviction was a matter of public record at an open court hearing.  The material in this case is already in the public domain.  There was no compelling reason to hear any part of the case in private.

7. Having considered the matter and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel determined that the hearing should proceed in public, consistent with the principle of open justice.

Background

8. The Registrant is a Radiographer.  He worked at Weston Area Health Trust until he was suspended after his arrest on suspicion of possession of child pornography images.

9. The Registrant admitted downloading a large number of pornographic images of children (720,000 still images and 6,700 videos) when he was arrested and interviewed by the police on 2 April 2015 and 3 September 2015.   Of the images and videos that were inspected, over 5000 were found to fall within category A (penetrative sexual activity) on the scale that is used to classify the content of child pornographic material.

10. Following his arrest, the Registrant told the police, “I’d like to say something, I’d like to confess”.  He subsequently admitted to being addicted to pornography since he was aged 16 years and to downloading images of very young girls. He had been downloading child pornography for 7-8 years.  He said that he knew he was a paedophile because he looked at these images, but he had never acted on these feelings “in real life.”  He admitted downloading and reading a publication entitled “How to seduce children” but he maintained that he had no desire to actually offend in that way.

11. He was suspended from his position as a Radiographer in April 2015.   He notified the HCPC of his suspension on 17 April 2015.  He pleaded guilty to offences of downloading child pornography and the possession of extreme images at North Somerset Magistrates Court on 20 October 2015 and his case was committed to Bristol Crown Court for sentence.

12. The Registrant appeared before Bristol Crown Court for sentence on 22 December 2015.  His Honour Judge Mercer QC described this as an “extreme” case of its kind because of the volume of material that was downloaded over a substantial time and because of the nature of the material.  He stated that this conduct encourages the terrible abuse of children that underlies it.  He noted that the Registrant had sought to address his obsession but there was no alternative to a sentence of immediate custody.  The Judge imposed concurrent sentences of 28 months’ imprisonment on all charges. 

13. He was also made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to restrict his use of the internet and his contact with children. This was indicative of a finding by the Judge that he presented a risk of serious sexual harm.  He may be banned from working with children by the independent authority that considers whether sexual offenders should be subject to that restriction.  He is subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

Allegation

14. The HCPC therefore made the following allegation against the Registrant:

On 20 October 2015, at North Somerset Magistrates Court, you were convicted of:
1. Making an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child
2. Making an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child x 8
3. Possession of extreme pornographic images – act of intercourse / oral  sex with a dead / alive animal x 1
4. By reason of your conviction as set out in paragraphs 1-3, your fitness  to practise as a Radiographer is impaired.

Decision on Grounds & Impairment

15. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms Amin on behalf of the HCPC. The Panel also had regard to the HCPC Note on Conviction and Caution Allegations and the advice of the Legal Assessor. 

16. The Panel found the Certificate of the Conviction to be conclusive proof of the conviction and the underlying facts.  The Panel then considered the issue of impairment.

17. The nature and gravity of the Registrant’s conviction for an offence of downloading a large quantity of child pornography and extreme pornography damages public confidence in his and in his profession.  Public confidence in his profession and the regulator would be severely undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in these circumstances.  The public would be astounded if the Registrant’s fitness to practise was found not to be impaired in these circumstances.

18. The Panel noted that the Registrant had made full admissions to the police and had pleaded guilty to all charges at an early stage.  However, these were extremely serious charges, which by their nature and the sentencing remarks of the Judge indicated that the Registrant presented a serious potential risk to the public.  There was no evidence of successful treatment. The Sexual Harm Prevention Order indicated that the Judge had found the Registrant to present a continuing risk to others.  The nature of the offending was addictive and obsessive behaviour over a period of seven years.  For those reasons, the Panel finds that there remains a risk of repetition of this conduct, and finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on both personal and public grounds.
19. Accordingly, the Panel found the Registrant’s current fitness to practise to be impaired by reason of the conviction.

Decision on Sanction

20. The Panel considered the Indicative Sanctions Policy of the HCPC and the advice of the Legal Assessor.  The Panel considered the personal mitigation and the aggravating features in this case.

21. The Panel found that the principal aggravating features were the extreme nature and quantity of the images and the length of time that the Registrant had been offending in this way.

22. The Panel accepted that the Registrant was sorry for what he had done.  The Panel also accepted that there were other relevant mitigating factors: the admissions to the police, the notification to the regulator and the early guilty pleas.   The Panel also noted that the Registrant appeared to be professionally competent, but it remained concerned that there was a serious risk to the public if the Registrant were permitted to return to work after his release from prison.

23. The Panel considered that this case was far too serious to take no action or to impose a Caution Order.  A Conditions of Practice Order was not verifiable or workable, because the Registrant was in prison and not working as a Radiographer, and such an order would not meet the gravity of the offence or the potential risk or the Indicative Sanctions Guidance which states that Registrant’s would not normally be expected to return to practice while there was an outstanding sentence to be served.

24. The Panel considered whether the level of risk could be addressed by the imposition of a Suspension Order. However, this sanction would not adequately address the risk that is posed by an offender of this nature working with vulnerable patients, including children.  The Panel considered the extreme nature of material, the length of the offending, and the other court orders indicated a high level of risk. 

25. The Panel therefore decided to strike the Registrant from the register, because of the gravity of his offending, the risk he presents to others, and because of the need to uphold and maintain proper standards of conduct.  The Panel was satisfied that the sanction was proportionate to the high level of risk in this case.  The Registrant does not intend to return to work as a Radiographer so there is little impact on him personally.  Public confidence in the profession and in the regulator would be severely undermined if any lesser sanction were to be imposed.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Christopher P Daldorph from the Register on the date this order comes into effect

Notes

An Interim Suspension Order was imposed to cover the appeal period.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Christopher P Daldorph

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
19/12/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
03/10/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
30/09/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Hearing has not yet been held
05/07/2016 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
11/04/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
11/04/2016 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Hearing has not yet been held
01/02/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off