Susan A. Raybould

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT41592

Interim Order: Imposed on 08 Mar 2016

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 08/03/2016 End: 17:00 08/03/2016

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

Whilst registered as an Occupational Therapist, you: -

 

1. Were convicted on 14 October 2014 at Chester Crown Court of causing death by dangerous driving.

 

2. By reason of your conviction as set out at paragraph 1, your fitness to practise as an Occupational Therapist is impaired.

Finding

Background:

1. The case concerned the criminal conviction of the Registrant on 14th October 2014 at Chester Crown Court for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving. She pleaded not guilty but was found guilty by a jury and on 06 November 2014 she received a prison sentence of 3 years and a consecutive 3 year driving ban, the latter to take effect upon her release from prison.

2. On 11 March 2013, Mrs Raybould, whilst driving her motor car, ran over and killed a 72 year old woman near Macclesfield. She provided no satisfactory explanation to the Court and forensic evidence indicated that she had not slowed down beforehand. In his sentencing remarks, the Judge emphasised that the jury had rejected Mrs Raybould’s explanation that she had suffered from shoulder pain. The Judge concluded that the only tenable explanation was that she must have been reaching for her handbag. The Court heard the victim was and an otherwise active, albeit elderly, lady who had died violently, suddenly and without need.

3. Mrs Raybould is an Occupational Therapist of 11 years standing, having reached the post of Clinical Specialist in acute/palliative care in 2014 at the East Cheshire NHS Trust (the employer). Mrs Raybould had driven without incident for 43 years and is aged 62 (60 at the time of the event and 61 at the time of conviction). She is due to be released on electronic tag on 24 December 2015, with an official release date on license of 06 May 2016. In August 2015 she was awarded a day release, spending the day as she wishes and returning at a pre-arranged time. Her former employer, in a disciplinary hearing on 27 January 2015, found that the conviction had frustrated Mrs Raybould’s contract with the Trust and the employer summarily dismissed her.

Decision on Facts:

Particular of Allegation 1: Proved.
4. The Panel was satisfied that the Certificate of Conviction dated 16 December 2014 proved the facts of the case and that the conviction was proved. The Panel also noted that Mrs Raybould admitted the conviction.

Decision on Impairment: 

5. The Panel heard the submissions from Ms Shotunde for the HCPC and from Mrs Raybould on her own behalf, as well as her own written and oral evidence and that of her character witness, CJ, Mrs Raybould’s former Line Manager and an Occupational Therapist. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and took into account the HCPC’s Practice Note on Impairment. It also noted that it must exercise its judgment at this stage of the hearing and it exercised the principle of proportionality.

6. The Panel took into consideration what Mrs Raybould has been doing in the period since the event itself, the conviction and the sentence and since she was summarily dismissed by her former employer.

7. The Panel considered that this conviction is a serious one, that involved the sudden and violent death of a person and that was wholly attributable to the Registrant’s dangerous driving, and as reflected in the sentence of imprisonment imposed. That, on several occasions during this hearing, Mrs Raybould has continued to consistently deny her culpability for her dangerous, driving despite the verdict of the jury and the Judge’s comments, is a clear indicator to the Panel that she has very little, if any, insight into the nature of the offence and into the impact on the victim/victim’s family. In the Panel’s opinion, her oral evidence appeared to rehearse as if by rote what she seems to think the Panel wanted to hear rather than a genuine expression of remorse, regret and insight. In addition, in relation to the “Sycamore” victim awareness course that she underwent in prison the Panel was of the opinion that her evidence displayed no real understanding or self-analysis of the impact of her actions despite being pressed on this aspect by the Panel and by the HCPC case presenter.

8. Whilst the Panel did not doubt the Registrant’s ability as an Occupational Therapist and took into account her glowing testimonials, nevertheless, in the Panel’s judgement, this case is of sufficient seriousness to invoke the need to see a marked and meaningful demonstration by Mrs Raybould of her insight and genuine remorse. By contrast, what she did show the Panel was her predilection for her own feelings and those of her own family at the expense of a deeper and more comprehensive understanding that her dangerous driving that day had on the victim and her family, as well as how such an event would be viewed by the wider community, rather than her supportive colleagues who knew her well. She simply did not understand this in the Panel’s view, despite being asked on a number of occasions. In the Panel’s opinion, this, in turn, revealed a concern regarding Mrs Raybould’s continuing inability to realise why her actions were so serious, as well as their impact.

9. In the Panel’s judgement the public would be concerned if the Panel were to find the Registrant unimpaired, due to the serious nature of the offence.

10. Thus, the Panel has determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of her conviction.

Decision on Sanction:

11. The Panel noted the submissions from Ms Shotunde and Mrs Raybould. It accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and it exercised the principle of proportionality at all times. In reaching its decision, the Panel took into consideration the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Guidance (the Guidance) as well as all the documentation, including that from the Registrant.

12. The Panel identified the following mitigating and aggravating factors:

Mitigating Factors:

• A blemish free record in all jurisdictions at or by the age of 60;
• Cooperation with the criminal proceedings;
• Cooperation with the HCPC proceedings;
• The matter did not concern her clinical competence in any way;
• Mrs Raybould’s ability to work as an Occupational Therapist to a high standard of care;
• Glowing references and testimonials;
• Mrs Raybould’s Band 6 speciality status as an Occupational Therapist;
• The value of Mrs Raybould to the wider community as an Occupational Therapist with excellent professional credentials, despite the conviction;
• The serving of a custodial prison sentence already reflecting the  seriousness of the offence for which she was convicted.

Aggravating Factors:

• The conviction for the reckless killing of a pedestrian whilst driving dangerously;
• A total failure up to and including today by Mrs Raybould to demonstrate any or any meaningful and genuine insight into that event; this was also demonstrated over 20 months by her “Not Guilty” plea to both the careless and reckless driving offences (alternatives);
• The commensurate risk of repetition in relation to Mrs Raybould’s failure to understand the meaning of insight in these types of circumstances;
• Mrs Raybould’s response to her fatal actions on 11 March 2013 from the beginning exemplified by the late change of her plea to guilty to the careless driving on the first day of her criminal trial, to effect, in her own words to this Panel, a “reduction in sentence”;
• Insufficient genuine remorse that was not self-serving at all times;
• Equivocation/prevarication about the reason why she ran over the victim without breaking or taking diverting action;
• Equivocation/prevarication of whether she told her then Line Manager about the death of the victim, 24 hours after she ran her over;
• Equivocation/prevarication about whether she went to work the next day and stated that she was “fine”, in contrast to her oral submission to the Panel that she had been ill at that time;
• The imposition of a relatively long prison sentence for the conviction reflecting the Courts’ and judiciary’s view of the seriousness of this offence.

 In the Panel’s judgement, the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors.

13. The Panel first considered taking no action. The Panel has already determined that this case is a serious criminal conviction case, and, as such, cannot be marked by there being no action. The release into her former employment immediately of a convicted criminal would not uphold any public interest and would be in direct contravention to the principles as set out in the case of Fleischmann v GDC [2005] EWHC 87 (Admin); namely, that sanction should match the end date of the sentence in a criminal conviction Fitness to Practise case. That infers that there must be a sanction that adequately represents the serious nature of criminal convictions per se and, in addition, that also meets those convictions that are more than merely technical or minor. In the Panel’s view, this case is neither technical nor minor. In any event, the Panel noted that Mrs Raybould provided no proof to the Panel of any tagged release date being fixed for 24 December 2015 and/or no proof of the apparent promise of a return to her former job.

14. The Panel next considered imposing a Caution Order. The Guidance makes it clear that this sanction is to be used only for the less serious type of case, where insight has been demonstrated and where there is no risk of repetition in the future. As the Panel has no confidence, from Mrs Raybould’s evidence to it, that this level of failure to understand what true insight means would be understood by her in any set of circumstances in the future, the potential for this sanction falls away for these two primary, and important, reasons. Moreover, the Panel is of the clear view that public concern at this offence would not be allayed in any way by this sanction, in the face of such a serious criminal conviction.

15. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order and rejected this. There is no question as to her practice as this has been described as exemplary. The Panel were not able to formulate any conditions that would be relevant to this conviction, whilst also effecting any deficiency of practice, of which there are none. Therefore, this sanction would not be proportionate, fair or relevant in any way to the facts of this case or the mischief to be addressed.

16. The Panel next considered imposing a Suspension Order and rejected this, too. It was clear to the Panel from the case of Fleischmann v GDC [2005] EWHC 87 (Admin) that any sanction permitting any practice by a registrant under a conviction finding should end at a time at or after at the relevant criminal Court sentence, but not before, except in matters relating to fines and disqualification from driving. In this case, the pertinent date is 5/6 November 2017 (3 years from 06 November 2014, the date of Mrs Raybould’s sentence) and the maximum period for a Suspension Order from today is one year, which would take the end-date of the Suspension Order to a date much in advance of the last date of Mrs Raybould’s sentence.

17. Thus, at present the criminal sentence, taken in its totality and reflecting the criminally dangerous and fatal driving that day by Mrs Raybould, with the commensurate need for all aspects of the sentence to be undertaken by Mrs Raybould before she could resume Occupational Therapy practice under the case of Fleischmann, means that the only available sanction for the Panel is that of a Strike Off. In the Panel’s judgement, this is the only safe and proportionate sanction, which would also maintain and uphold the public’s confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mrs Susan A Raybould from the Register on the date this order comes into effect
 

Notes

The Panel has paid regard to the HCPC’s request for an Interim Order and it has accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice. The Panel concluded that an Interim Order is necessary in order to protect the public and in the wider public interest for the reasons set out in its substantive decision. For these same reasons, the Panel considered that an Interim Suspension Order is the most consistent and proportionate Interim Order to make, having considered and rejected an Interim conditions of Practise Order as inconsistent and illogical, in light of the sanction of Strike Off having been made.


The Panel considered that the period of the Interim Suspension Order is for 18 months, as this will cover either the period of notice for any appeal, or an appeal, should that take place, whichever the longer period.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Susan A. Raybould

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
08/03/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off