Sex crime nurse was still working after sentence
A nurse in Northern Ireland who knew he was facing charges of sexual offences against a teenager continued working in frontline healthcare right up until the week after he was sentenced and placed on the Sex Offenders Register, it has emerged.
The offender, who has since been struck off the nursing register, and the health trust for which he worked are not being identified at this time.
A fully qualified nurse, the offender committed the offences while working in a voluntary capacity at a medical station during an event in Co Antrim in July 2016. They involved sexual touching and attempting to engage in sexual activity with the victim, also a volunteer at the event.
From the date of the incident it took two years for a summons to be served, then two months for a court appearance, another month for sentencing and a week after that before the offender was suspended. Throughout that time, he continued working as a registered nurse.
The summons was served in early August 2018 but the offender failed to notify his employers or regulatory body, which were contractual requirements.
The case first came to court the following October, when two out of three charges were admitted, and pre-sentence reports ordered. Meanwhile, the offender continued working as a nurse, saying nothing of the case, his guilt or pending sentence.
In November 2018, he was placed on probation for a year and ordered to remain on the Sex Offenders Register for five years. Compensation was ordered to be paid to the victim.
His employers were not informed and a further week would pass before the offender informed his health trust and regulatory body of his convictions. He was immediately suspended.
In June this year, the regulator determined the offender failed to promptly inform his employer of the summons in August 2018, and, "as a professional practising nurse had a duty to co-operate".
This was considered a lack of integrity and "as a registered nurse at the time of conviction [the offender] is expected to be fully aware of the Terms & Conditions of employment".
The ruling said he "fell seriously short of the conduct and standards expected of a nurse". The panel described his behaviour as "deplorable".
The ruling continued: "The matters for which [the offender] was convicted are extremely serious. Registered nurses occupy a privileged position and the panel has no doubt that the particular sexual nature of [his] criminal offences will have had an adverse impact on the reputation of the nursing profession and will have seriously undermined the public's confidence in the nursing profession and [the regulator].
"The panel has kept at the forefront of its mind the public interest and has concluded [the offender's] convictions are so serious as to have gravely undermined the public's confidence in the standards and behaviour expected of a registered nurse."
It was noted the panel had not received evidence of the offender "demonstrating any insight, remorse or remediation in relation to the convictions" and concluded he is "liable to repeat failings of the kind which led to his convictions".
No mitigating features were established. The nurse was struck off.
The relevant health trust was asked if an investigation was conducted into how the offender continued to work as a nurse from the point of summons until after sentencing, and if any potential risks were identified.
It replied: "The Trust is unable to make any comment on any individual as to do so would be in breach of its obligations under data protection. All relevant Trust procedures were followed in this case."