Mr Richard Broughton

: Paramedic

: PA31454

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 20/03/2017 End: 17:00 20/03/2017

: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

Whilst registered as a Paramedic,


1.    On 3 June 2016, at Durham Crown Court, you were convicted of the following offences:
a)    Making indecent photographs of a child;
b)    Possessing an extreme pornographic image;
c)    Possession of prohibited images of children
2.    By reason of your conviction as set out at paragraph 1, your fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired

Finding

Preliminary Matters

 

Service

 

1.  The Panel had sight of a letter dated 3 November 2016, sent to the Registrant at his registered address, giving notice of today’s hearing, and determined that service had been properly complied with in accordance with the requirements of Rules 3 and 10 of the Health Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) Rules
2003 (“the Rules”).

 

Proceeding in absence

 

2.  The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who took the Panel to the Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant, to Rule 11 and to the guidance given in the cases of Jones (2003) 1 AC 1 and Tait –v The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [2003] UKPC 34.

 

3.  The Panel concluded that the Registrant had been served with the notice of hearing.
There had been no communication from the Registrant. He had not made an application to adjourn and the Panel concluded that it was unlikely that he would attend  if  the  matter  were  to  be  adjourned.  The  Panel  concluded  that  he  had absented himself voluntarily from the proceedings. The Panel bore in mind that it was  in  the  public  interest  to  hear  cases  expeditiously.  Accordingly,  the  Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

Application to amend the allegation

 

4.  Ms David, on behalf of the HCPC, applied at the commencement of the proceedings to amend the allegation to the particulars set out above. The Registrant had been given notice of the proposed amendments in advance of the date of hearing and had not submitted any objection to them. The requested amendments were entirely technical  in  that  they  related  to  two  typographical  errors.  The  Panel  therefore allowed the amendments on the basis that the Registrant would be caused no prejudice by this.

 

Background

 

5.  At  the  relevant  time  the  Registrant  worked  as  a  paramedic  for  North  East Ambulance Service. The Registrant’s employer had referred the Registrant to the HCPC on 12 February 2016.

 

6.  The Panel was provided with a certified certificate of conviction which indicated that the Registrant had appeared before Durham Crown Court on 3 June 2016 and had entered pleas of guilty on 3 June 2016 to:

•    one offence of making an indecent photograph, namely
- 5 category A images (images involving penetrative sexual activity and images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism),
- 21 category B images (images involving non-penetrative sexual activity) and
- 29 category C images (indecent images not falling within category A or B)

•    one offence of possessing 5 extreme pornographic images

•    one offence of possessing 107 prohibited images of a child.

 

7.  The Panel was provided with a transcript of the sentencing hearing held on 1 July
2016 at Durham Crown Court where the Registrant was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment suspended for 24 months; a rehabilitation activity requirement of 40 days; was made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

 

8.  The sentencing remarks highlighted that the Registrant’s activity had covered a period of some four and a half years; had involved the use of a pseudonym; and referred to abuse of children as young as 18 months and babies.

 

9.  The Panel heard that the Registrant had not engaged with the HCPC in any way and had not submitted any representations for the consideration of the Panel.

 

Decision on Facts

 

10. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

 

11. The Panel accepted the evidence provided by the Certificate of Conviction, and on that basis found Particular 1 proved.
 

Decision on Impairment:

 

12. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who addressed the Panel on the meaning of impairment and referred to the case of Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence v (1) Nursing and Midwifery council (2) Paula Grant [2011] EWHC 927.

 

13. The Panel accepted that the Registrant had entered pleas of guilty at the Crown Court. However, in light of the lack of evidence of remediation or insight the Panel concluded that there remained a risk that the Registrant would repeat his behaviour.


14. In considering the public component the Panel found, in light of the seriousness of the conviction, that a finding of impairment of fitness to practise was justified on the grounds that it was necessary to reaffirm clear standards of professional conduct in order to maintain public confidence in the Registrant and the profession. The offending had taken place over some four and a half years and had included the making of the highest category of indecent photography and possession of extreme pornographic images. The Registrant had used a pseudonym in the course of his activity. In all the circumstances of the case the Panel concluded that the public would be outraged if a finding of impairment was not made in this particular case.


15. The  Panel  therefore  found  that  the  Registrant’s  fitness  to  practise  is currently
impaired.

 

Sanction

 

16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and referred to the Indicative
Sanctions Policy.

 

17. The Panel bore in mind that its purpose was not to be punitive, but to protect the public interest. It understood that it must act proportionately, balancing the interests of the Registrant with those of the public. It considered the range of available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness, starting with the option of taking no action.


18. The Panel found, by way of aggravating factors, that offending that lay behind the convictions:
• had taken place over a period of four and a half years.
• related  to  some of  the  most  serious forms  of  pornographic  internet  activity, involving making indecent photographs of category A images and the possession of extreme pornographic images
• had involved the use of a pseudonym
• had involved vulnerable children
 

19. The Panel found by way of mitigation that the Registrant

• had entered pleas of guilty at the Crown Court

• had been of previous good character

•  had been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the Pre- Sentencing Report that had been provided for the Crown Court

• had suffered loss of his employment and serious damage to  his family life, according to the sentencing remarks

 

20. In view of the seriousness of the case, to take no further action or to impose a caution order would not be sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process.

 

21. The Panel concluded that conditions of practice would be insufficient in light of the seriousness of the allegation, and would be unworkable in light of the nature of the allegation.

 

22. The Panel gave consideration to a suspension order. The Panel concluded that this would be insufficient because the offences were so serious. Furthermore, the Registrant was subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.

 

23. In those circumstances the Panel concluded that a striking off order was the only appropriate order. Such an order was necessary due to the seriousness of the convictions which had led to sentences of imprisonment, albeit suspended, for behaviour that was at the higher end of the scale of internet sexual activity. The Panel had received no reassurance that the Registrant would not repeat the behaviour that led to the convictions and the Panel concluded that there remained a risk that he would reoffend. The Panel understood that a striking off order was the most  serious  of  all  sanctions.  However,  the  Panel  concluded  that  any  lesser sanction would undermine confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

 

Order

The Panel decided to strike the Registrant from the HCPC register.

Notes

 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Richard Broughton

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
20/03/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
31/01/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
03/11/2016 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
06/05/2016 Investigating committee Interim Order Application Interim Suspension