Mr Anthony Davies

Profession: Radiographer

Registration Number: RA67755

Interim Order: Imposed on 27 Jul 2016

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 28/07/2016 End: 16:00 28/07/2016

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

Allegation as amended on 28 July 2016

On 07 October 2015 at Dudley Magistrates' Court you were convicted of:
 
1. Between 31 October 2014 and 01 December 2014 at Dudley, West Midlands made indecent photographs on your laptop computer, namely, a quantity of Category C indecent photographs of a child Contrary to sections 1(1)(a) and 6 of the Protection of Children Act 1978.
 
2. Between 28 September 2014 and 28 February 2015 at Dudley, West Midlands made indecent photographs on your mobile telephone, namely 36 indecent images of a child at Category C. Contrary to sections 1(1)(a) and 6 of the Protection of Children Act 1978.
 
3. By reason of your convictions as set out at paragraphs 1 - 2 your fitness to practise as a Radiographer is impaired

Finding

Preliminary matters

1. Mr Davies has neither attended the hearing nor been represented at it.

2. The Panel considered whether Mr Davies had been given proper notice of the hearing, and concluded that the letter dated 25 May 2016 sent to his HCPC Register address satisfied the notice requirements.

3. The Panel next considered the HCPC’s application that the hearing should proceed in the absence of Mr Davies.  The Panel was informed that there had been no engagement on the part of Mr Davies with the HCPC in connection with any element of the fitness to practise process.  In reaching its decision the Panel heeded the terms of the HCPC’s Practice Note entitled, “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”, and also accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor that a decision to proceed in the absence of a registrant should only be taken with great care.  The decision of the Panel was that this case should proceed.  Mr Davies had been written to by, and on behalf of, the HCPC on a number of occasions, those communications being sent to his HCPC Register address.  That address was the same as recorded on the Memorandum of Conviction provided by Dudley Magistrates’ Court.  The Panel therefore concluded that there was no reason to doubt that Mr Davies was receiving communications sent to him.  The Panel found that he had voluntarily absented himself from the hearing.  As he had not communicated in any way with the HCPC it followed that he had not sought a postponement or adjournment of the hearing.  It followed from this that there were no grounds on which the Panel could conclude he would be likely to attend a hearing on a future occasion if it did not proceed at the present time. The result was the clear public interest in an expeditious resolution of the allegation outweighed the absence of Mr Davies.

4. After the Panel decided that the hearing would proceed in the absence of Mr Davies, the Presenting Officer applied to amend the allegations made by the HCPC against Mr Davies in two respects.  One was that the allegation originally alleged that Mr Davies had been convicted on 30 October 2015, whereas a proper analysis of the matter revealed that Mr Davies had pleaded guilty, and therefore had been convicted, on 07 October 2015.  30 October 2015 was the date on which he was sentenced.  The other proposed amendment was to correct an obvious typographical error in paragraph 1 of the allegation so that the allegation read that the indecent images were on the laptop, rather than of the laptop.  The Panel agreed to both amendments, finding that they were appropriate and would result in no prejudice to Mr Davies.

Background

5. In December 2012 Mr Davies commenced employment as a Radiographer at a hospital in Dudley, and in late 2014 he was living in accommodation at that hospital.  In November 2014 a friend staying with him at the hospital flat used a laptop owned by Mr Davies and found on it the images that are referred to in paragraph 1 of the allegation.  The Police Report provided to the Panel describes the evidence of the person who discovered the images in these terms: “[The laptop] contained images of young teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 17 years, with a lot of them being girls posing fully clothed or in their bra and pants, several photos of young girls, laying down posing on a bed with either their bras off, their pants off or some that were fully naked on the bed.  [The discoverer] believed that these girls were approximately 15/16 years of age and they were posing fully fontal nude with their legs open.  [The discoverer] estimated there were hundreds of photographs in this folder …”

6. When the laptop was forensically examined by the Police no images were found, a new operating system installed in December 2014 having wiped off any images there might previously have been.  Analysis of Mr Davies’ mobile phone, however, revealed 36 Category C images between 6 and 16.

7. The evidence before the Panel has explained that a Category C image is one that is an indecent image of a child, but not one involving sexual activity.

8. As has already been stated Mr Davies pleaded guilty to both offences on 07 October 2015.  On 30 October 2015 he was sentenced to concurrent terms of 4 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months, a supervision requirement during the period of suspension of the sentence of imprisonment, and various ancillary financial orders.  Significantly, he was also made the subject of a notification requirement to register with the Police for a period of 7 years from 7 October 2015.

9. The allegation made by the HCPC against Mr Davies is a “conviction allegation”.  It follows that it is necessary for the Panel first to decide if Mr Davies was convicted as alleged.  If it is decided that he was, then the Panel must consider whether the effect of that conviction is that his fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on allegation

10. The Panel is satisfied that the conviction referred to in the allegation was recorded against Mr Davies.

Decision on impairment 

11. The Panel accepted that it was necessary to consider the issue of impairment of fitness to practise from the perspective of both the personal component and the public component.

12. So far as the personal component is concerned, it is fair to record in favour of Mr Davies that he pleaded guilty to the offences in the Magistrates’ Court.  However, the absence of any engagement with the HCPC fitness to practise process means that the Panel is not able to conclude that, by acceptance of responsibility and insight into how inappropriate his behaviour was, he would not be liable to repeat behaviour of the sort in respect of which he was convicted.  It follows from this finding that his current fitness to practise is impaired from the perspective of the personal component.

13. The Panel is of the clear view that Mr Davies’ fitness to practise is impaired from the point of view of the public component.  A fair-minded member of the public would not expect to be treated by a Radiographer who had so recently been convicted of offences of this nature, and that expectation would be underlined by the fact that Mr Davies is still subject to a suspended sentence of imprisonment.  Public confidence in the profession and the upholding of proper standards require a finding of impaired fitness to practise at this point.

14. It follows that the allegation is well founded and the Panel must consider the issue of sanction.

Decision on sanction

15. After announcing the decision that the allegation is well founded, the Panel received further submissions from the Presenting Officer on the issue of sanction.

16. In her submissions, the Presenting Officer reminded the Panel of the proper approach to the imposition of a sanction and invited the Panel to have regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy document in reaching its decision.  She suggested that the Panel should consider whether the only appropriate sanction would be one of striking-off given the guidance provided by the High Court in the case of CHRE v GDC & Fleischmann [2005] EWHC 87 Admin to the effect that when a registrant has been convicted of a serious offence, they should not ordinarily be permitted to resume their practice until the sentence has been satisfactorily completed.

17. The Panel has approached the issue of sanction on the basis that a sanction is not to be imposed to punish a registrant against whom a finding has been made.  Rather, a sanction is only to be imposed to the extent that it is required to protect the public and to maintain a proper degree of confidence in the registered profession and in this regulatory process.  To ensure that these principles are applied, it is necessary for the Panel first to consider whether the finding on the allegation requires the imposition of any sanction.  If it does, the available sanctions are then to be considered in an ascending order of seriousness until one is reached that affords sufficient protection and maintains a proper degree of confidence.  As the finding is one on a “conviction allegation” the full sanction range up to and including striking-off is available.

18. The Panel was of the clear view that a sanction is needed in this case.  There are two important factors that have determined the sanction the Panel has concluded must be imposed in this case.  One is to repeat the Panel’s finding that the lack of engagement on the part of Mr Davies does not enable the Panel to conclude that he would not be at risk of re-offending.  The other is the fact that he continues to be subject to a criminal sanction.  Not only will he be the subject of a suspended sentence of imprisonment for another 15 months, but he will also be registered as a sex offender for more than another six years.  These two factors result in the Panel concluding that they would not be discharging their obligation to protect the public and to ensure that the public can have confidence in professionals with whom they have contact were Mr Davies to be permitted to return to practice.  Accordingly, neither a caution order nor a conditions of practice order is appropriate.  The Panel considered whether the present risk could be managed by the imposition of a period of suspension.  However, if the Panel imposed the maximum period of suspension today, Mr Davies’ registration as a sex offender would still have more than five years to run at the expiry of that period.  There are also no grounds for believing that Mr Davies would engage with the process in the future in order to enable a future Panel to take more positive view as to risks of recurrence.  These findings have resulted in the Panel concluding that a suspension order is not appropriate.  The result is that a striking-off order must be made.  The Panel is satisfied that in the particular circumstances of this case, striking-off is a proportionate response to the finding on the allegation.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Anthony Davies from the Register on the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

An Interim Suspension Order was imposed to cover the 28 day appeal period.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Anthony Davies

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
28/07/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
19/05/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
02/03/2016 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
15/09/2015 Investigating committee Interim Order Application Interim Suspension