Mr Danny Robinson

Profession: Clinical scientist

Registration Number: CS20265

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 16/08/2019 End: 17:00 16/08/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

On 13th September 2018 at Snaresbrook Crown Court, whilst registered
as a Clinical Scientist, you were convicted of:

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

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

3. Making indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of child.

4. By reason of your convictions, as set out at particulars 1 - 3, your fitness
to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters:


Proof of Service

1. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel had sight of a letter dated 21 May 2019, sent to the Registrant at his registered address, giving notice of today’s hearing, and determined that service had been complied with in accordance with the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Panel) (Procedure) Rules 2003.


Proceeding in absence
2. The Registrant did not attend the hearing and Mr Olphert made an application to proceed in his absence.


3. The Panel heard and accepted the legal advice from the Legal Assessor, who referred it to the case of the GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162, and the principles to be considered when deciding whether or not to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel had in mind the need to exercise its discretion to proceed with the utmost care and caution, particularly because the Registrant was not represented.


4. The Panel noted that the Registrant made a self-referral to the HCPC on 17 October 2018, reporting that he had been convicted for downloading indecent images of children. He said that he would be resigning from his post at the Royal Free Hospital and that it was his intention to remove himself from the HCPC register. Apart from, in March of this year, agreeing to receive papers electronically, there has been no other contact from the Registrant. The final hearing bundle was sent to the Registrant electronically on the 18 June 2019.


5. The Panel noted that the Registrant had not responded to the notice of today’s hearing but was satisfied that he was, or should be, aware the hearing was due to go ahead today and that, in the event that he did not attend, the hearing could go ahead in his absence.


6. By not fully engaging with his regulator, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had deliberately and voluntarily waived his right to be present and his right to be represented at this hearing. The Panel noted that the Registrant faced serious allegations and there was a clear public interest in the matter being dealt with expeditiously. The Panel considered an adjournment would serve no useful purpose, because it seemed most unlikely that the Registrant would attend on another occasion, given his stated intention to remove himself from the HCPC register. Furthermore, the Panel noted he had not requested an adjournment. The Panel concluded that it was in the interests of justice that the matter should proceed notwithstanding the absence of the Registrant. The Panel would draw no adverse inference from the Registrant’s non-attendance.

Background:
7. The Registrant is, and was at all material times, registered as a Clinical Scientist with the HCPC.


8. The Registrant was employed in the radiotherapy department of the Royal Free Hospital. At no stage during his arrest, trial or sentencing did the Registrant make his employer aware that he was accused of these offences.


9. On 13 September 2017, the police executed a warrant at the Registrant’s home address and found six internet connected devices. Three of those devices contained indecent images. Only two of those images were accessible by simply clicking them. The remainder required specialist software, and had been deleted from the computer. The category breakdown of those images was:


Category A: Three moving and seven still;
Category B: One moving, one still; and
Category C: 24 still.


10. On 13 September 2018, the Registrant attended the Snaresbrook Crown Court and entered guilty pleas to the three charges. On 25 September 2018, he was sentenced to a 24-month Community Order with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (for a maximum of 60 days) and an Unpaid Work Requirement (160 hours). He was also made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for a period of five years and required to register with the police in accordance with the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for a period of five years.


11. In his sentencing remarks, the Judge outlined the factual background of the offending for which the Registrant had been convicted and said:


“I find that almost impossible to understand, how a man with children, who apparently has a loving relationship with those children can nonetheless contribute to degradation and misery of other children in other parts of the world.”
“These are real children who are assaulted, sexual and physically, who are scarred for life for the pleasure of people who pay to watch it on the internet. This is in no sense, a victimless crime”


12. In deciding not to impose a sentence of immediate custody in this case the Judge said:

“I have read the report and read the references for you. Your wife has attended in relation to support you and indeed [inaudible]. I am just about persuaded that I do not need to send you to prison. I am taking a risk with you and I think it is probably a risk worth taking.”


13. On 17 October 2018, a month after his conviction, the HCPC received a self-referral from the Registrant. He notified the HCPC that he had, “recently received a conviction for downloading indecent images of children.” He added, “I did not carry out this act intentionally, however it was my fault and so I did plead guilty.”

Decision on Facts:


14. In reaching its decisions on the facts the Panel took into account the memorandum of conviction which, the Legal Assessor advised, is conclusive proof of the conviction. The Registrant had also admitted the facts in his email to the HCPC, dated 17 October 2018. Accordingly, the Panel found the facts as set out in Allegations 1, 2 and 3 proved.


Decision on Statutory Ground:
15. The Panel next considered the statutory ground. Because this is a conviction case, and the Panel had been provided with the memorandum of conviction, the Panel found the statutory ground to be made out.


Decision on Impairment:
16. Having found the statutory ground of conviction to be well founded, the Panel went on to consider whether the Registrant’s current fitness to practise was impaired as a result of that conviction. In doing so it took into account the submissions made by Mr Olphert, the aforementioned email evidence provided by the Registrant and all the documents provided. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


17. The Panel had been advised by the Legal Assessor that an important factor when considering current impairment is whether the conduct which led to the allegation is remediable, that it has been remedied and that it is highly unlikely to be repeated. Although it could be said that the Registrant had shown some insight by his admissions at court, that insight was somewhat diminished by his comments that he had not downloaded the images intentionally. The Panel noted that there were indecent images on three separate devices and that they included videos, which are considered an aggravating feature in the criminal courts. In such circumstances, the Panel could not be satisfied that his conduct was highly unlikely to be repeated. The Registrant had not attended nor had he provided any evidence of remediation or an understanding of what had motivated him to view such harmful images and how he might prevent such behaviour being repeated. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise as a Clinical Scientist was at the time, and remained, impaired on public protection grounds, not least because in his work he would be expected to interact with the public, which would include children, but also because of the impact on patients of learning that a Clinical Scientist had behaved in this way.


18. The Panel noted the reference in the Registrant’s job description to vulnerable groups, which states that the Registrant is:


“To carry out responsibilities in such a way as to minimise risk of harm to children, young people and vulnerable adults and to promote their welfare in accordance with the Children Act 2004, Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006) and No Secrets guidance (DH2000).”


And


“To demonstrate an understanding of and adhere to the trust’s child protection polices.”


19. The Panel considered the Registrant’s behaviour to be incompatible with these responsibilities.


20. The Panel went on to consider whether this was the type of case that required a finding of impairment on public interest grounds in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and the Regulator and to uphold professional standards. The Panel was satisfied that a fully informed member of the public, who was aware of all the background to this case, would have their confidence in the profession and the Regulator undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. The Panel considered that a member of the public would be very concerned if the Regulator took no action in a case where a Clinical Scientist had been convicted of serious offences relating to the downloading and viewing of indecent images and videos of children. As the Judge quite rightly acknowledged, such action perpetuates the ongoing harm and abuse of children since the creation of such images involving children arises from the desire of individuals to view them. There was clearly a need to send out the message to the profession that this sort of behaviour is wholly unacceptable and not to be tolerated.


21. The Panel also noted that the Registrant was subject to a live five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and a two-year Community Order which, the Panel considered, impaired his current fitness to practise.


22. The Panel therefore determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on public protection and public interest grounds and that the allegation of impairment is well founded.


Decision on Sanction:


23. In reaching its decision on sanction, the Panel took into account the submissions made by Mr Olphert, together with all the written evidence and all matters of personal mitigation. The Panel also referred to the guidance issued by the Council in its Indicative Sanctions Policy (“ISP”). The Panel had in mind that the purpose of sanctions was not to punish the Registrant, but to protect the public, maintain public confidence in the profession and maintain proper standards of conduct and performance. The Panel was also cognisant of the need to ensure that any sanction is proportionate. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


24. The Registrant had provided no mitigation to this Panel and had demonstrated very little by way of insight. He had made admissions at Court, but the Panel considered these were diminished by his claim that his downloading had been unintentional. The Registrant had not demonstrated any remorse to this Panel.


25. The Panel considered the aggravating factors in this case to be: very serious offences; a number of the images were at the most serious level; the downloads included video clips; the Registrant is subject to a live sentence; a lack of engagement at this stage and, therefore, a lack of evidence of insight, remorse and remediation; behaviour that actively undermined the profession.


26. The Panel considered the following mitigating factors; no previous disciplinary matters; admissions at Court.


27. In light of the serious nature of the conviction, the Panel did not consider this was an appropriate case to take no further action.


28. The Panel next considered whether a Caution Order would adequately reflect the seriousness of the conviction. The Panel’s role as indicated by the ISP was not to punish the Registrant twice for the same offence, but to protect the public and maintain high standards among registrants and public confidence in the profession. The Panel did not consider that such an Order would adequately mark the seriousness of the behaviour or protect the public.


29. This was not a case where Conditions of Practice would be appropriate because of the nature of the Registrant’s conduct. The Panel noted the comprehensive conditions attached to the Sexual Harm Prevention Order issued by the Court, which suggested it might be possible to formulate conditions to protect the public. However, such conditions would not protect the public interest and in any event the Panel considered Conditions of Practice would not adequately reflect the seriousness of the offending behaviour.


30. The Panel next considered whether to make a Suspension Order. The ISP states that, “Suspension should be considered where the allegation is of a serious nature but unlikely to be repeated and, thus, striking off is not merited.” The Panel reminded itself of the nature of the conviction, namely the downloading and viewing of images and video clips of children engaging in indecent sexual acts. This also amounted to a gross breach of trust for a registered health care professional to behave in this harmful way and the Panel was concerned about the real risk of repetition. Although a Suspension Order would provide protection to the public for its duration, having identified a risk of repetition of this behaviour and, in the absence of any information from the Registrant about remediation, the Panel decided that suspension was not appropriate. In addition, the Panel was not satisfied that it would be sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession or the regulatory process, or to send a clear message to the profession at large that such behaviour would not be tolerated. The Panel determined that a Suspension Order would not be a sufficient sanction in the circumstances of this case.


31. In reaching this decision the Panel took into account the case of the Council for the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals v (1) General Dental Council (2) Alexander Fleischmann [2005] EWHC 87 (Admin), where the High Court stated that as a matter of general principle, where a registrant had been convicted of a serious criminal offence, he should not be permitted to resume his practice until he had satisfactorily completed his sentence. This had direct relevance to this case because the Registrant had been convicted of a serious criminal offence and his sentence remained to be completed.


32. The Panel therefore looked at the guidance in the ISP on making a Striking Off Order in order to decide whether such an Order would be appropriate. The guidance states that, “Striking off is a sanction of last resort for serious, deliberate or reckless acts involving abuse of trust such as, sexual abuse, dishonesty or persistent failure.” The guidance also states that, “The HCPC considers that any offence relating to child [sexual abuse imagery] involves some degree of exploitation or abuse of a child and, therefore, that conviction for such an offence is a serious matter which undermines the public’s trust in registrants and public confidence in the profession concerned.” It goes on to observe that “Striking off should be used where there is no other way to protect the public.” The Panel finds that this case is characterised by a gross abuse of trust and sexually motivated acts, involving the exploitation of children.


33. The ISP goes on to suggest that a Striking Off Order may be appropriate where the nature and gravity of the allegation are such that any lesser sanction would lack deterrent effect or undermine confidence in the profession. The Panel’s earlier finding in relation to the consideration of a Suspension Order identified that a lesser sanction would indeed be insufficient to represent these wider public interest issues in the specific circumstances of this case.


34. The Panel concluded that, in light of the seriousness of the behaviour and the limited insight and remediation there is a real risk that the behaviour would be repeated. Therefore, the only appropriate sanction in this case was to make a Striking-Off Order. The Panel considered that downloading and viewing any images of child sexual abuse was fundamentally incompatible with being a registered Clinical Scientist. The Panel took into account the impact this might have upon the Registrant, but concluded that the need to protect the public outweighed his interests and that no other sanction would adequately protect the public. The Panel noted that, albeit this was not an option open to him, the Registrant had already indicated that he would remove himself from the Register.


35. Accordingly, the Panel makes a Striking-Off Order and directs the Registrar to erase Danny Robinson’s name from the Register.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Danny Robinson from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

Interim Order:
1. The Panel heard submissions from Mr Olphert on proceeding to hear an application for an Interim Order in the absence of the Registrant and also on the need for an Interim Order to cover the period during which an appeal may be made and, if one is made, whilst that appeal is in progress. The Registrant was not present and therefore the Panel had first to decide whether to proceed to consider the Interim Order application in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


2. The Panel decided that it was appropriate to consider the Interim Order application in the absence of the Registrant. In reaching this conclusion the Panel took into account the contents of the Notice of Hearing sent to the Registrant on 21 May 2019, where it is stated under the heading “Interim Orders”, “Please note that if the Panel finds the case against you is well founded and imposes a sanction which removes, suspends or restricts your right to practise, it may also impose an interim order on you (under Article 31 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001). An interim order suspends or restricts a registrant’s right to practise with immediate effect.” The Panel was satisfied this meant the Registrant was on notice that this was a possible outcome at this hearing.


3. The Panel remained satisfied that the Registrant had waived his right to be present at the hearing by his lack of engagement with the hearing process. The Panel could see no reason to adjourn the hearing in order to allow the Registrant to attend on a later date because there was no indication that he would attend on any other occasion. The Panel took into account the fact that it had identified there to be a continuing risk to the public if the Registrant were allowed to practise without restriction and decided it was clearly in the public interest to consider the Interim Order application today, even if that meant it was conducted in the absence of the Registrant.


4. The Panel has found that the Registrant downloaded and viewed indecent images and videos of children. The Panel has already concluded that the Registrant represents a continuing risk to the public because there remains a concern that he would repeat the behaviour in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, particularly given his limited insight and lack of remediation. The Panel had no evidence about the Registrant’s compliance with the Sexual Harm Prevention Order and so could not be reassured that the public were necessarily being protected solely because that order is in place. The Panel therefore concluded that an Interim Order was necessary to protect the public from the risks it had identified during the 28 day appeal period, or the time taken to conduct any appeal, in the event that one is made.


5. The Panel is also of the view that, given the nature and seriousness of the misconduct in this case, public confidence in the regulatory process would be undermined if the Registrant were allowed to remain in practice on an unrestricted basis during any appeal period. The Panel therefore determined that an Interim Order is otherwise in the public interest.


6. The Panel first considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order would be sufficient. However, for the same reasons as dealt with at the sanction stage, the Panel concluded that conditions would not be appropriate or proportionate in this case.


Interim Suspension Order:
7. The Panel therefore decided to make an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest. This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Danny Robinson

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/08/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off