Mr Wayne T Williams

: Chiropodist / podiatrist

: CH18085

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 17/11/2017 End: 17:00 17/11/2017

: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

Whilst registered as a Chiropodist, on 22 December 2015 at Crownhill Police Station you accepted a caution for:

 

1. Common assault contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988;

 

2. Common assault contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988;

 

3. By reason of your cautions as set out at paragraphs 1 - 2 your fitness to practise as a Chiropodist is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Service

1. The Panel had sight of a letter dated 11 September 2017 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 Rule 3 of the Health Professions Council Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).

Proceeding in absence

2. Mr Dite on behalf of the HCPC applied to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

3. 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 Tait –v The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [2003] UKPC 34, R-v- Jones (2003) 1 AC 1 and GMC –v- Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

4. The Panel had sight of a letter from the Registrant received by the HCPC on 3 October 2017 in which he said:

“If you need any further information please contact me. Due to ill health I am unable to travel and stay at London. I retired 3 ½ months ago largely due to ill heath”.

5. The Panel heard that the HCPC had responded to this letter by means of letters dated 17 October 2017 and 16 November 2017 in which the Registrant was offered the option of attending via teleconference, to which the Registrant had not responded.

6. The Panel also heard that the matter had previously been listed for hearing on 17 July 2017, but could not go ahead due to inadequate service of the relevant documentation on the Registrant. The Panel heard that the Registrant was asked by telephone on that occasion whether he was happy for the hearing to proceed in his absence. A telephone note of that conversation indicated that, in response, the Registrant “stated that he needed to knock this on the head once and for all and that all he wants it to end as his family are suffering”. The Panel heard that the hearing was then adjourned to enable proper service of the bundle and to allow the Registrant to properly consider whether he wished to attend the hearing by telephone or video-link if he could not attend in person. 

7. The Panel concluded that the Registrant was aware of the hearing and that his non-attendance was deliberate. He had clearly engaged to some degree, and the Panel was satisfied that he was aware of what was taking place. The Registrant had indicated that he was unable to travel due to ill health but had provided no medical evidence in support of any application to adjourn on that or any other basis. The Panel did not believe that he would attend if the matter were to be adjourned. The Panel bore in mind that the Registrant had been sent two letters giving him the option of attending by telephone or video-link, but had not responded.  Whilst the Registrant’s absence would bring him some disadvantage the Panel had the benefit of written representations provided by him received by the HCPC on 3 June 2016, 22 July 2016 and 3 October 2017. The Panel concluded that it was in the public interest for the matter to be heard expeditiously, particularly as this matter dates back to 2015.

Background

8. At the relevant time the Registrant was registered as a Chiropodist with the HCPC. 

9. The Panel was informed that on 22 December 2015 the Registrant accepted a police caution for two offences of Common Assault contrary to S39 of the criminal Justice Act 1988, one relating to an incident that occurred between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2005 involving his wife’s mother, and the other relating to an incident that occurred between 7 June 2015 and 15 June 2015 involving his wife.

10. The Panel was provided with the notes of a police interview conducted with the Registrant in which he accepted, in relation to the incident involving the mother of his wife, that when he was around 53 years old and his mother-in-law was around 80 years old, he had approached her from behind in his kitchen and had placed his hands on her breasts and groped them. When asked why he had done this he asserted that there was no sexual motivation and that he had clearly done it for a laugh. The Registrant said that he regretted doing this and did not know why he had done it.
11. In relation to the incident involving his wife the Registrant said in his police interview that on 15 June 2015 he found out that his wife was going on a cruise, which caused him to become jealous, and led to an argument and that he had got angry. He said that his wife “came at him in his face” so he pushed her with open palms to her chest, as a result of which she tripped over a grandchild’s toy, landed on a piece of furniture, fell, and cut her arm. He admitted that in hindsight he could have walked away.

12. The Registrant submitted three responses to the HCPC in relation to the allegation, received on 3 June 2016, 22 July 2016 and 3 October 2017.

13. In the letter received on 3 June 2016 the Registrant noted that the incident involving his wife “occurred when she had lied to me and kept invading my personal space shouting at me. I had asked her several times for her to move away from me and I had pushed her away and she had tripped over a grandson’s toy”. In relation to the incident involving his mother-in-law, he stated “that has not been repeated after it occurred 11 years ago. I agreed to a police caution in order to avoid court trial”. The Registrant said that he was “due to retire in April next year”.

14. In the letter received on 22 July 2016 the Registrant stated: “On the advice of my solicitor … I accepted his advice to agree to a police caution and to save my eldest son… and his wife from any further distress”.

15. In the letter received on 3 October 217, he stated, in relation to the incident involving his mother-in-law: “I deeply regret the incident mentioned. It was meant as a silly joke”. He detailed a number of criticisms of his mother-in-law. He also detailed a number of criticisms of his wife. He added that he had retired three and half months ago, largely due to ill health.

Decision on Facts and Ground

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

17. The Panel had sight of the police documentation in relation to the alleged caution for two offences of common assault, which included a copy of the caution itself, signed by the Registrant.

18. The Panel concluded that although there was some ambiguity regarding the date of the alleged assault against his mother-in-law, the Registrant accepted that the incident in question took place in or around 2005.  The Certificate of Adult Simple Caution provided by Devon and Cornwall Police detailed two offences of common assault: the first was recorded as having taken place between 01/01/2004 and 31/12/2005, and the second was recorded as having taken place between 07/06/2015 and 15/06/2015. In the notes of the Registrant’s police interview on 21 October 2015 the Registrant described the incident with his mother-in-law as having taken place “ten years ago”, and the assault on his wife as having taken place on 7 June 2015. In his letter of 11 July 2016, the Registrant stated that “On the advice of my solicitor Mr John Haythorn, I accepted his advice to agree to a police caution ...”.

19. The Panel concluded that on the basis of the information before it, including the Registrant’s admissions, that on the balance of probabilities the Registrant accepted the police caution for the two offences of common assault, and therefore found the facts and ground proved.

Decision on Impairment: 

20. 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.

21. In considering the personal component, the Panel concluded that whilst the offences for which the Registrant has accepted a caution were capable of remedy there was no evidence contained within the three submissions from the Registrant of any remediation of his shortcomings. As such the Panel found that there must be a risk of repetition. This was reinforced by the fact that the matters in question related to two incidents separated by around ten years and as such did not constitute an isolated incident.

22. In the Registrant’s letter of 11 July 2016 he indicated that he had accepted the police caution on the advice of his solicitor and in order to save his son and his son’s wife from any further distress, rather than because he accepted wrongdoing on his part.

23. The Panel concluded that the overall tenor of the Registrant’s communications was to diminish his responsibility for his actions and play down their seriousness. He made no reference to the impact upon his wife and mother-in-law of his actions. The Registrant had demonstrated very limited insight and little remorse. The Panel found his fitness to practise impaired on the Personal Component.

24. In considering the public component, the Panel concluded that the caution resulting from the Registrant’s actions in relation to the two common assaults had the very real potential to bring the profession into disrepute, undermine confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process. The Panel concluded that the public would be dismayed and shocked if a finding of impairment was not made. The Panel found the Registrant impaired on the Public Component.

Decision on Sanction:

25. In considering what sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and referred to the Indicative Sanctions Policy.

26. The Panel bore in mind that its purpose was not to be punitive, but was 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.

27. The Panel began by identifying what it considered to be the principal aggravating and mitigating factors in the case.

28. The Panel found, by way of aggravating factors, that:

• the caution was based on two incidents

• the two incidents were separated by a considerable period of time

• the Registrant’s mother- in- law was elderly and vulnerable

• the Registrant had shown extremely limited evidence of insight and remorse

• the Registrant had shown no evidence of remediation

29. The Panel took into account, by way of mitigation:

• the Registrant’s previously unblemished record

30. The Panel then considered the issue of sanction by beginning with the least restrictive.

31. The Panel concluded that to take no further action would be neither appropriate nor proportionate as it would not provide the necessary level of public protection against the risk of repetition previously identified by the Panel and would fail to protect the wider public interest in maintaining confidence in the profession and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

32. In considering a Caution Order the Panel concluded that this would not be sufficient as the incidents could not be described as isolated, limited or relatively minor in nature. Furthermore, the risk of recurrence could not be described as low. The Registrant had only shown limited insight, and he had taken no remedial action. The Panel was also of the view that such an order would not satisfy the public interest.

33. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order, but concluded that this would not be sufficient as the facts that lay behind the caution amounted to serious failings, and it was the judgment of the Panel that the public would be put at risk if the Registrant were to be permitted to work even with restrictions. In so concluding the Panel bore in mind that the work of a podiatrist involves frequent exposure to the public. Furthermore, the Panel was unable to formulate workable conditions that would reflect the nature of the caution, and in any event could not be satisfied that the Registrant would abide by any conditions given his lack of insight and engagement. The Panel was also of the view that such an order would not satisfy the public interest.

34. The Panel then considered a Suspension Order but concluded that this would not be sufficient in the circumstances. The Panel had found that there was a risk of repetition. The Registrant had accepted his involvement in two incidents of assault, separated by a considerable period of time, which involved two different individuals. He had since shown limited insight which, in turn, had diminished in time, in that the Registrant’s remarks in his most recent letter received by the HCPC on 3 October 2017, in which he was critical of his mother in law, showed less insight than his earlier letters to the HCPC. The Panel concluded that although a period of suspension would protect the public for a given period of time, this was insufficient due to the risk of repetition in the long term, and was also insufficient to protect the public interest.

35. The Panel concluded that a Striking Off Order was the only appropriate order in the circumstances. In so concluding the Panel acted proportionately by bearing in mind the Registrant’s interests, in particular by putting to one side the Registrant’s stated intention not to return to practise. The Panel reached its conclusion on the basis of the facts as accepted by the Registrant at the time of accepting the caution. The Panel understood that the Registrant stated, at that time, that his actions in relation to his mother-in-law had been intended as a joke, but the Panel concluded that this was nevertheless reckless behaviour that was unbefitting of a registered podiatrist.

36. The Panel concluded from the facts as described by the Registrant at the time of accepting the caution that the allegation was serious. The fact that this was not an isolated incident, combined with the fact that the Registrant had recently stated that he now regretted accepting the caution, and had only done so on the advice of his solicitor, suggested limited insight which had decreased in time and meant that there was a risk that the Registrant would repeat his actions.  His letters revealed no indication of a willingness to come to terms with what he had done. Further a striking off order was needed to maintain public confidence in the profession and to maintain and uphold standards of conduct in light of the nature and seriousness of the behaviour that lay behind the caution. 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

ORDER: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Wayne T Williams from the Register on the date this order comes into effect

Notes

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Wayne T Williams

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
17/11/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
17/07/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned