Mr David Willey

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA32367

Interim Order: Imposed on 27 Jul 2018

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 21/05/2019 End: 17:00 21/05/2019

Location: The 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 7 August 2018 at Oxford Magistrates Court, whilst registered as a Paramedic, you were convicted of:

1. Possessing prohibited images of children.

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:


Service
1. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has been served with notice of today’s hearing in accordance with the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence) Committee (Procedure) Rules 2003. The Panel has seen a letter dated 11 March 2019 which was sent by first class post to the Registrant at his registered address. The letter was also sent on the same date to the Registrant’s email address. This letter contains all the necessary information required for proper notification of today’s hearing.


Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant
2. Ms Hollos for the HCPC, applied for today’s hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, relying on the HCPC Pro-forma completed by the Registrant and dated 21 January 2019 in which he indicates that he does not intend to appear or be represented at this hearing. She submitted that the Registrant has, therefore, voluntarily waived his right to attend and has not sought any adjournment.


3. In reaching its decision, the Panel has considered the various matters set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”. It has also received and accepted legal advice. The Panel notes that it should exercise great care and caution before deciding to proceed in the absence of a registrant.


4. The Panel has decided to grant the HCPC’s application and proceed in the absence of the Registrant for the following reasons:


a) it is satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken to notify the Registrant of today’s hearing in accordance with the relevant Rules;
b) the Registrant has made it clear that he does not intend to attend or be represented and therefore it is clear that he has voluntarily waived his right to be present;
c) the Registrant has not applied for an adjournment;
d) there is no reason to suppose that an adjournment would result in the future attendance of the Registrant;
e) it is in the interests of the Registrant that the hearing proceeds today;
f) there is a clear public interest in proceeding with this hearing expeditiously.


Background:


5. The Registrant was employed as a Paramedic by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust).


6. On 18 May 2017, Thames Valley police officers searched the Registrant’s flat under the authority of a search warrant. The Registrant was arrested on suspicion of possession of indecent images and was cautioned. He said “When I was looking at adult porn, there were a lot of pop-ups. I couldn’t stop, I emailed CEOP”. CEOP is the Child Exploitation and Online Protection force. The Registrant was interviewed under caution and provided a prepared statement in which he admitted to having the various images on his computer and explained how this had started and why it had, over time, continued.


7. On 1 September 2017, the Registrant referred himself to the HCPC. He stated that he had been suspended from his employment by the Trust pending the outcome of investigations by the Trust and partner agencies. Subsequently, the Trust informed the HCPC that Thames Valley Police were also investigating the Registrant.


8. On 11 July 2018, the Registrant was charged with three offences relating to indecent images of children. The first charge alleged that between 26 January 2013 and 26 May 2016, the Registrant had in his possession five prohibited images of a child (likely to be types of cartoon-based CGI – non-photographic images). The second charge alleged that on 26 January 2013, the Registrant made 11 category A indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child. The third charge alleged that on 26 January 2013 the Registrant made 35 category B and 68 category C indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child. As a result of his arrest, the Registrant tendered his resignation to the Trust.


9. On 23 July 2018 the Registrant notified the HCPC that he had now been charged with three offences to which he intended to plead guilty. On 7 August 2018, at his first appearance at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, the Registrant pleaded guilty to all three charges. He was committed to Oxford Crown Court for sentence. On 20 August 2018, he was sentenced to concurrent community sentences of 24 months which required him to participate in the Horizon Programme for 25 sessions, undertake Rehabilitation Activity Requirement for a maximum of days. He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for a period of five years and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register, also for a period of five years.


Decision on Facts:


10. The HCPC did not call any evidence and produced the Certificate of Conviction from Oxford Crown Court and a transcript of the sentencing hearing on 20 August 2018.


Particulars 1, 2 and 3 were each found proved
11. In finding each of Particulars 1, 2 and 3 proved, the Panel relied on the Certificate of Conviction from Oxford Crown Court dated 16 October 2018 which certified that the Registrant was convicted on 7 August 2018 at Oxford Magistrates’ Court.


12. The Panel also relied on the fact that the Registrant had pleaded guilty to the three offences with which he was charged and in the Pro-forma dated 21 January 2019, he admitted the facts alleged against him.

Decision on Grounds:


13. For the reasons set out in its findings of fact, the Panel is satisfied that the statutory ground of conviction is proved.


Decision on Impairment:


14. In reaching its decision on impairment, the Panel has considered the submissions of Ms Hollow for the HCPC, and has had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”. It has also received and accepted legal advice.


15. The Panel is well aware that the purpose of these hearings, is not to punish the Registrant for his convictions but to protect the public against the acts and omissions of those who are not fit to practise.


16. In considering the personal component, the Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has some insight into his offending behaviour. This is demonstrated by his guilty pleas and his admissions to the Allegation in the Pro-forma dated 21 January 2019. The Panel also notes that it was the Registrant who informed the HCPC of his suspension by the Trust, and later that he had been charged with criminal offences.


17. The Panel notes that the Registrant has taken steps to remedy the behaviour that led to his convictions. However, the Panel has concluded that the risk of repetition remains at this time.


18. The Panel therefore finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the personal component grounds.


19. In relation to the public component grounds and the wider public interest, the Panel notes that until August 2023, the Registrant will be subject to a SHPO and be required to remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register. The Panel has no doubt that an informed member of the public would be shocked and would consider that public confidence in the Paramedic profession and in its regulatory process would be undermined if there was no finding of impairment in this case at this time.


20. The Panel also takes the view that it would be failing in its duty to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour in the Paramedic profession if it did not find impairment in this case. Paramedics should be in no doubt that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable.


21. In these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the public component grounds.


Decision on Sanction:


22. In considering the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case the Panel was referred to and has taken account of the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel has borne in mind that the purpose of any sanction it imposes is not to punish the Registrant, although it may have that effect, but it is to protect service users and to maintain confidence in the Paramedic profession and to uphold its standards of conduct and behaviour. The Panel has also had in mind that any sanction it imposes must be appropriate and proportionate bearing in mind the convictions involved.


23. The Panel has first considered mitigating and aggravating factors. In relation to mitigating factors, the Panel notes that the Registrant has co-operated both with the police investigation and with the HCPC in these proceedings. It is clear from the transcript of the sentence hearing that there were personal circumstances which may have played a part in the Registrant’s offending behaviour. The Registrant has demonstrated some insight and shown remorse. He has taken steps to remedy his convictions. The Registrant has not repeated his offending behaviour since he reported himself to CEOP prior to his arrest in 2017.


24. In relation to aggravating features, the Panel notes that the period of time over which these serious criminal convictions took place. The Panel considers that the convictions have caused reputational damage to the Paramedic profession.


25. The Panel has considered the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness. It has decided that to take no action or to impose a Caution Order in this case would not be appropriate or proportionate given the serious nature of the convictions concerned. The Registrant’s offending behaviour was not an isolated incident and it could not be described as relatively minor. The Panel is satisfied that to ensure public confidence in the profession is not undermined it must consider a more severe sanction. The Panel has also had in mind paragraph 20 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy which states:


“Generally, Panels should regard it as incompatible with HCPC’s obligation to protect the public to allow a registrant to remain in or return to unrestricted practice whilst subject to a notification requirement as a sex offender” .


26. The Panel has considered a Conditions of Practice Order but has decided that this is neither sufficient or proportionate to address the concerns in this case. This is not a case where there are any clinical concerns. Although the Registrant has shown insight into his offending behaviour, the Panel considers that an informed member of the public would be concerned if a registrant was able to practice even subject to conditions while he or she was still subject to a SHPO and required to be on the Sex Offenders Register for serious criminal offences involving the exploitation and abuse of children.


27. The Panel then turned to consider a Suspension Order. It notes that paragraph 41 of the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy states:


“If the evidence suggests that the registrant will be unable to resolve or remedy his or her failings then striking off may be the more appropriate option. However, where there are no psychological or other difficulties preventing the registrant from understanding and seeking to remedy the failings then suspension may be appropriate”.


28. The Panel considers that a Suspension Order would serve no useful purpose in the circumstances of this case. The maximum period for which such a sanction could be imposed would be 12 months. In this case, at the end of that period and indeed up to August 2023, the Registrant would still be subject to both the SHPO and the requirement to be on the Sex Offenders’ Register. In these circumstances, the Panel considers there would be very little the Registrant could do to demonstrate that he had remedied his offending behaviour and so such an order would not be in his interests.


29. The Panel has concluded that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case is to make a striking off order. The Panel has had in mind paragraphs 47 and 49 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy which state:

“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.”

“Striking off may also 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 concerned or the regulatory process”.


30. The Panel is of the view that given the serious nature of the criminal convictions any sanction other than a striking off order would undermine public confidence in the Paramedic profession and in the regulatory process.

 

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of David Willey from the Register on the date this order comes into effect (the operative date)

Notes

Right of Appeal:
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.


Under Articles 30(10) and 38 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you.


European alert mechanism:
In accordance with Regulation 67 of the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015, the HCPC will inform the competent authorities in all other EEA States that your right to practise has been prohibited.
You may appeal to the County Court against the HCPC’s decision to do so. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you. This right of appeal is separate from your right to appeal against the decision and order of the Panel.


Interim Order:


Application for an Interim Order:
Ms Hollos for the HCPC applied for an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.


Panel’s decision:
The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has been given notice that an Interim Order might be considered at today’s hearing and that it is therefore appropriate to proceed to consider this. The Panel has previously considered proceeding in the absence of the Registrant and has adopted the same reasons for this application. The Panel is satisfied, for the reasons set out in its determination relating to the risk of repetition and the wider public interest, that an Interim Suspension Order is necessary to protect members of the public and is otherwise in the public interest.


Interim Suspension Order:
The Panel makes 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 David Willey

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
21/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off