Mr Junaid Iqbal-Wahid
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While registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Biomedical Scientist:
- On 2 May 2019 at the Crown Court at Manchester, Minshull Street, you were convicted of:
- Administering with intent a substance;
- Sexual assault x2.
- By reason of your conviction, your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The Panel noted that the Notice of Hearing letter dated 20 November 2019 complied with the HCPC’s procedural Rules, in that it stated the date, time and venue of the hearing, and was sent more than 28 days before today’s date by first class post to the Registrant’s last known registered address. It was also emailed to him on 20 November 2019. Furthermore, the Panel noted that the HCPC had sent the same Notice of Hearing letter but dated 22 November 2019 to the Registrant in prison by first class post on 25 November 2019. In the Panel’s judgement, this last method of service to the Registrant was additional to the HCPC’s statutory requirements for service, as the Registrant did not give his permission to the HCPC to use his prison address until 26 November 2019 (set out in his application to adjourn today’s hearing - see below). Therefore, the Panel concluded that there has been good service of the Notice of Hearing, and, thus, good notice to the Registrant of today’s hearing.
Proceeding in the Registrant’s absence
2. The Panel took into consideration the submission of Ms Bagott to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. In reaching its decision, the Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and took into account the HCPTS Practice note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant.
3. The Panel noted that the Registrant was absent today and that there was no representative for him, for example, his sister. The Panel was aware that the Registrant had applied for an adjournment in his reply form to the HCPC, dated 26 November 2019. His grounds were that, being in custody, he could not represent himself at the final hearing. He said that he was in the process of appealing his conviction and asked for an adjournment of approximately 12 months until the outcome of his appeal. The Chair was asked to determine the application and, having taken legal advice from the Legal Assessor, she determined on 30 December 2019 not to grant the Registrant's application to adjourn. Her reasons were that, given the nature of the allegation, the lack of formal confirmation as to whether an appeal is in progress and when any appeal is likely to be resolved, it was in the public interest for matters to be considered as soon as possible. Her determination also included reference to the fact that the whole Panel had the power to consider the matter again, should the Registrant not be present or represented today and where the HCPC would have to apply for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The HCPC sent the Chair’s decision to the Registrant’s sister by email on 2 January 2020. The Registrant had made it clear in a handwritten letter from prison to the HCPC dated 11 July 2019 that he had given his sister full permission to deal with his affairs so they could be resolved promptly,
4. Since that time, the Panel noted that there has been no more communication from the Registrant; for example, confirming that he would be attending today or be represented, or that his appeal has been initiated or when it was likely to be resolved, thus giving an indication if there would be a realistic prospect of the Registrant attending in the near future.
5. Therefore, in the Panel’s judgement, there was little, if any, realistic prospect of the Registrant attending in the near future if this hearing was to be adjourned. Furthermore, the Panel concluded that the wider public interest of the importance of an expeditious disposal of this hearing outweighed any unrealistic likelihood of the Registrant attending for a final hearing in the future should the hearing be adjourned. In the Panel’s judgement, the case against the Registrant comprises a criminal conviction of a serious nature and the final hearing needs to be heard as expeditiously as possible. There has been good service of the Notice of Hearing and, to that end, the final hearing date has been fixed for some time, and this arrangement should be honoured so as to meet the public interest in prompt disposal of the case and so as to protect the public. In any event, the independent Panel with the independent Legal Assessor would ensure that the hearing would be fair to the Registrant at all times.
6. For these reasons, the Panel determined that the hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
7. The case concerns the conviction of the Registrant, a registered biomedical scientist, at Manchester Crown Court on 2 May 2019. The Registrant was convicted on 2 May 2019 of one count of administering a substance with intent and a second count of two sexual assaults. The Registrant had pleaded not guilty to both counts and the victim was required to give evidence at the trial. On 24 May 2019, the Registrant was sentenced to a total of 6 years imprisonment, 6 years on Count 1 and 3 years on Count 2 to run concurrently to Count 1. He was also placed on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely and was made the subject of a restraining order in respect of the victim for 5 years.
8. In August 2017, at approximately 10.15pm, the Registrant went with a female friend of his for a pre-arranged drive. When she left the vehicle to go to the toilet, the Registrant secretly laced her drink of hot chocolate with the drug MDMA. On her return, she drank her beverage and became unwell. The Registrant then intimately sexually assaulted her twice.
9. In her sentencing remarks, the learned Judge stated that the Registrant had been convicted of the offences on the indictment on “compelling evidence”. The Judge further stated that she had concluded that the Registrant had significantly planned his actions, as he had previously purchased the MDMA, not being a drug user himself, in order to stupefy the victim. The Judge concluded that the Registrant’s sole purpose had been to drug the victim to achieve sexual activity on the pre-arranged meeting. He knew she was a Muslim who valued her chastity, which was an important asset to be safeguarded until she was married. The Registrant also knew that she was seeking to find a husband. The Judge rejected that this was an opportunistic crime. She stated that the drug MDMA was designed to make the victim less able to resist the Registrant’s sexual advances. The Judge commented that she became unsteady, unable to balance and she asked the Registrant to take her to hospital. He refused to do so and spent a significant period of time detaining her in his car whilst he sexually assaulted her. The Judge went on to outline that the victim was drugged and not in full control of herself and the Registrant did not take her to hospital until 3am.
10. In her victim impact statement dated 9 May 2019, 20 months after the Registrant’s assaults on her, the victim stated that in having to go to the Crown Court to give evidence, she felt that the Registrant had tried to tarnish her reputation and intimidate her, rather than showing remorse for his actions. She stated that seeing him at the witness entrance to the Court each day when she attended to give evidence cause her a great deal of distress and anxiety in Court.
11. The psychological effects on the victim were ongoing, as reflected in the victim’s impact statement. She stated that she was “ridden with anxiety, shame and disgust for a long time”. She felt that she had been put through a nightmare of an ordeal, which she was still losing sleep over. She had lost her trust in men and the assaults caused her to question her chances of settling down and having a family. The Judge stated that the victim suffered from panic attacks and anxiety, was constantly looking over her shoulder for fear of what could happen to her, she had lost her trust in men and her confidence and self-esteem had been severely damaged. She had been prescribed antidepressants and was receiving counselling. Her social confidence had been badly affected and her independence had been compromised to the extent that she was considering giving up living independently and moving home to her family.
12. The Judge said to the Registrant: “You have shown absolutely no remorse whatsoever.”
13. The Judge stated that the aggravating factors were that there was significant planning by the Registrant, there was a prolonged detention by him of his victim and he administered a dangerous drug and committed a sexual assault on her. The Judge stated that, in addition, the Registrant had taken steps to prevent the victim from reporting the offence by keeping her in his car, and he attempted to conceal evidence by discarding the cup containing the hot chocolate with residue of the MDMA drug, which would have been in the cup.
14. The Judge also took into account that the Registrant had no previous convictions, that he has lost his reputation, that he will never be able to resume the career he had enjoyed and, from letters written to the Court on his behalf, that he was regarded extremely highly by family and friends.
15. In reaching its decision, the Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and took into account that it cannot go behind the facts of the conviction.
16. The Panel noted the Certificate of Conviction dated 21 June 2019. It referred to the Registrant’s name as, both, “Junaid Abdul-Wahid” and “Junaid Iqbal-Wahid”. However, the transcript of the Sentencing Hearing of 24 May 2019, commenced with the Registrant being asked if his name was “Junaid Iqbal-Wahid”, to which he replied “I am”. Therefore, in the Panel’s judgement, the apparent discrepancy on the Certificate of Conviction does not invalidate it, as the Registrant himself confirmed orally to the Court that his name was “Juniad Iqbal- Wahid”.
17. Therefore, the Panel found the conviction proved by reason of the contents of the Certificate of Conviction and the Judge’s remarks in the Sentencing Hearing.
Decision on Impairment
18. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered the submission of Ms Bagott. The Panel also took into account the documentation. It accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and paid regard to the relevant HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (the Standards). The Panel took into account that it must exercise its judgment in reaching its decision on Impairment.
19. The Panel concluded that the facts of the conviction were extremely serious. The conviction involved the Registrant’s deliberate behaviour in drugging a female friend in order to perform sexual acts on her, which he then proceeded to perform. He violated her and kept her in his car against her will, refusing to take her to hospital when she became ill from the Controlled Drug he had secretly put in her drink. Furthermore, he displayed no remorse for what the Panel considered to be deplorable actions.
20. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s conduct was dangerous, deplorable, highly offensive, morally reprehensible, cynical, planned and deliberate in all respects. In the Panel’s judgement, the Registrant breached the trust of a friend, physically violated her and deceived her. His conduct was personal conduct but nevertheless conduct that fell below the standard of personal conduct expected of a healthcare professional. In the Panel’s opinion, the Registrant’s conduct put at considerable risk the health, safety and well being of the public, as demonstrated by his degrading actions to the victim in this case. In addition, the Registrant had been practising in a caring profession (as a biomedical scientist) and yet refused to take his victim to hospital promptly and when she asked him to, when she might have needed treatment and care. The Panel further concluded that the Registrant’s actions, as set out and manifested in his conviction and sentence, has attracted, and undoubtedly will continue to attract, public opprobrium of the highest order.
21. In the Panel’s judgement, the Registrant’s actions breached a fundamental tenet of the profession, as follows:
• Standard 9: to be honest and trustworthy;
• Standard 9.1:You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.
22. It was clear to the Panel that the Registrant’s conduct, as reflected in the conviction and sentence, fell far below the standards expected of a registered healthcare professional and was deplorable.
23. The Panel concluded that this was a very difficult case to remediate, as the crimes that the Registrant had committed were of such a serious and reprehensible nature as to place it almost in the irremediable category. The Registrant has displayed no remorse, he continues to maintain his innocence despite the compelling evidence at his trial and is on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely. In any event, the Panel noted that there has been no remediation evidence from the Registrant, by way, for example, of a reflective piece accepting responsibility and apologising to the victim, at the very least. Therefore, the Panel concluded that the Registrant has no insight, regret, remorse, or understanding of why remediation is so important. This attitude on the part of the Registrant has prevailed at all times, as reflected in his approach to his criminal case, to the victim and to this process. The Panel considered that the risk of repetition remains high in this case, as the Registrant has simply not accepted that his behaviour militated against all decent and moral principles governing Society today. In the Panel’s opinion, the Registrant has absolutely no insight or understanding of how profoundly his actions have degraded the victim and potentially changed her life and her view of men forever.
24. The Panel concluded that, for these reasons, any informed member of the public would consider that, if the Registrant, a convicted sexual offender, was to be found not impaired, public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would be severely undermined. Furthermore, the Panel concluded, from the nature of the sexual assault, that the public would be put at considerable risk of harm if the Registrant was to be found not impaired.
25. For the reasons set out, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the grounds of public protection and in the wider public interest.
Decision on Sanction
26. In reaching its decision on sanction, the Panel took into account the submission of Ms Bagott. It also accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and paid regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Guidance. As prescribed by caselaw, it approached the sanction options in ascending order.
27. The Panel identified the following aggravating factors:
• The Registrant undertook a planned and deliberate sexual assault, in that he deliberately drugged his friend’s drink with a Controlled Drug, with the intention to sexually assault her and did so twice;
• He did so on a female friend who had trusted him;
• He obtained the Controlled Drug with the specific intention to use it against his friend;
• He detained his friend against her will in his car for a considerable period of time in order to assault her and to prevent her from reporting the matter;
• He tried to hide the evidence of the drug in the drink by throwing away the cup;
• He refused to take his friend to hospital when she asked him;
• Notwithstanding his not guilty pleas, the Registrant was found guilty on compelling evidence;
• His not guilty plea resulted in the necessity for his victim to give evidence, where she felt undermined by the Registrant, with long-lasting psychological damage to her and despite compelling evidence against him;
• He was placed on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely;
• He is subject to a restraining order on the victim for 5 years from May 2019
28. The Panel identified the following mitigating factors:
• The Registrant had no previous findings against him in the past;
• The Registrant had been in practice as a biomedical scientist, which he enjoyed, for a number of years before the facts of his conviction took place.
29. The Panel could find no other mitigating factors, other than those referred to in the Judge’s sentencing remarks. However, there was no documentation before the Panel to reflect, for example, any positive references and testimonials.
30. The Panel considered taking no action or imposing a Caution Order and determined that these outcomes would not reflect the undoubted profound public opprobrium at the Registrant’s conviction and sentence. In addition, they would also not serve to protect the public from the risk of harm from the Registrant’s deliberate, secretive and planned sexual behaviour.
31. The Panel next considered imposing a Conditions of Practice Order and rejected this sanction. The Registrant has displayed no remorse, regret or insight and has not commenced any remediation. He has not acknowledged that he sexually assaulted the victim and has not apologised to her. The Panel did not consider that there were any workable and enforceable conditions that would meet the behaviour identified by this conviction. In the Panel’s judgement, the Registrant’s actions were so serious and inextricably linked to his personal behaviour that conditions were not appropriate to meet the nature of his behaviour.
32. The Panel next considered imposing a Suspension Order. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s conviction was an extremely serious breach of conduct expected of a registered healthcare professional. There has been no demonstration of a shred of insight displayed by the Registrant and no remediation commenced by him. The Panel concluded that the nature of the conviction in this case was a deliberate sexual assault by the Registrant, a registered healthcare professional, on a vulnerable female friend who had trusted him, with the use of a Controlled Drug to stupefy her in advance, with no consequential insight on his part and the commensurate risk of repetition. The Panel also concluded that being indefinitely on the Sex Offender Register was incompatible with the principle of protecting the public and the Registrant being able to return to practice as a biomedical scientist.
33. In the Panel’s judgement, the public would be at considerable risk of harm to its health, safety and welfare, and it would be highly offended and its confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would be severely undermined, if a time-limited Suspension Order was to be imposed for this conviction. In the Panel’s judgement, the Registrant’s actions were of such a high level of seriousness as to attract the very top end of the sanction scale. Thus, in the Panel’s judgement, a sanction of a Suspension Order would be disproportionate to the seriousness of the Registrant’s behaviour, as reflected by the conviction, the sentence, the victim impact statement and the Judge’s Sentencing Remarks and the Panel rejected the sanction of a Suspension Order.
34. Therefore, for the reasons set out, the only proportionate and appropriate sanction to impose is that of a Striking Off Order.
The Panel decided to impose a Strike Off Order.
1. The Panel took into consideration the application for an Interim Suspension Order from Ms Bagott, on the grounds of public protection and in the wider public interest, for the period of the appeal notice, if any, or for the longer period of the disposal of any appeal. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and paid regard to the HCPTS’s Practice Note on Interim Orders.
2. The Panel took into consideration the outcome of today’s hearing and its reasons for that. It concluded that such was the seriousness of this matter, as reflected in its reasons, that it was necessary and proportionate to impose an Interim Order in this case to cover the interim period of any appeal notice, if applicable, or any period for any appeal to be disposed of. This was in order to protect the public and in the wider public interest, for the same reasons as in the Panel’s substantive determination.
3. The Panel considered imposing an Interim Conditions of Practice Order, but rejected this on the grounds that it would be incompatible with the sanction in this case of a Striking Off Order. In any event, the Panel concluded that an Interim Suspension Order would be the best method to protect the public and uphold public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process, for the reasons given in the substantive determination.
4. Therefore, the only proportionate and appropriate order to make is that of an Interim Suspension Order to be effective immediately. The Panel concluded that it should be of 18 months’ duration so as to cover, at most, any period of appeal, should that take place, in light of the time High Court appeals can take to be listed, heard and concluded.
History of Hearings for Mr Junaid Iqbal-Wahid
|Outcomes / Status
|Conduct and Competence Committee