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Doctor had haul of 3,000 child abuse photographs

By Michael Donnelly

Published 11/11/2016

Dziurdzik at an earlier hearing
Dziurdzik at an earlier hearing

A doctor had images of girls as young as five or six among a haul of nearly 3,000 photographs of child sex abuse, a court heard.

Polish anaesthetist Piotr Dziurdzik will find out next week whether the jail sentence he receives will be suspended.

The 47-year-old former doctor with the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, who expects to be struck off by regulatory body the GMC, pleaded guilty to a total of 33 offences.

These were committed between 2012 and 2015, and include having more than 200 images in the most serious category four and five.

Prosecutor Michael Chambers told Antrim Crown Court that when confronted by police, Dziurdzik admitted: “Yes, true, it happened. If you scroll the internet there’s links all over and if you want something different.”

Mr Chambers said that when later interviewed by police, he described what he was doing as “a paradox ... knowing something is forbidden”.

The lawyer also told Judge Sandra Crawford that the vast majority of the images were of girls, although there were a number of small boys, and the age range of the children was substantially between eight and 12, “but that there were a smaller number of images of younger children”.

Mr Chambers said in his final interview in November 2015, the doctor, who claimed he was often drunk when he viewed images, was “shocked by the age range” of the children being abused, some as young as five or six.

The doctor told police that some images recovered from one laptop may have been saved automatically as he was “viewing other such stuff” and that it was all “blurred and messy”. However, he alleged that he was not “actively seeking out these images, but one website led to another when he clicked on the images”.

Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said Dziurdzik’s behaviour was both “disgraceful and appalling” but not once had he tried to minimise his role.

While he had lost everything, he had not attempted to equate his suffering to the suffering of children being abused online, Mr Rafferty added.

He said Dziurdzik was “exceptionally well thought of by his peers ... a man who could be looked up to .... a man who made something of himself”.

Given all of that, he added, it would be “rare for the courts to witness a more precipitous fall from grace”.

In effect, said Mr Rafferty, the once great doctor had “put a bomb under that and destroyed all of that”.

Acknowledging that the case had passed the custody threshold, Mr Rafferty argued it was up to the court to decide whether any sentence it deems appropriate, should be suspended or not.

Judge Crawford said, given the obvious seriousness and complexities of the case, she wished to reflect on matters and will pass sentence next week.

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