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Oxfordshire-based veterinary surgeon struck off for sexual offences

The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has directed that the Registrar remove an Oxfordshire-based veterinary surgeon from the Register after he pleaded guilty to sexual offences in court.
 
The hearing for George Martin took place on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 May after he pleaded guilty to two charges of breach of the peace (sexual) at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in August 2016. The charges related to his using recording equipment at various locations in Edinburgh between August 2014 and March 2015 in order to record underwear and genitalia, whilst he was a student at the veterinary school.
 
The Committee found that his conviction meant that he was unfit to practise veterinary surgery on public interest grounds and to protect the reputation of the profession and to uphold and maintain professional standards. It took this decision in light of a number of aggravating factors including the repeated, reckless and premeditated nature of his conduct, the potential for emotional or mental harm to victims, and the sexual nature of the crimes.
 
In considering sanction the Committee heard evidence from the respondent regarding the context in which he committed the offences including his own ill-health (the details of which were heard in private) and the fact he was suffering from loss of confidence and stress due to a number of factors. These factors include the break-up of a relationship, the death of a close friend and failing his clinical foundation course.
 
The Committee heard that Mr Martin had undertaken veterinary work both before and after his conviction and had received positive feedback from his peers. During the course of the hearing the Committee also noted that the respondent demonstrated genuine signs of remorse and apologised to the College for the damage he has done to it and the profession.
 
In coming to its decision on sanction it considered other mitigating factors including the fact that he had been open and honest about his conviction with employers, the risk of reoffending was low and that he had developed some insight into his behaviour and the harm it caused.
 
In reaching its decision Chitra Karve, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee reached the conclusion that the respondent’s behaviour was so serious that removal of professional status and the rights and privileges accorded to that status is the only means of protecting the wider public interest.
 
“It has not taken this decision lightly, and, lest it be misinterpreted, it has not taken it in order to satisfy any notional public demand for blame and punishment. It has taken the decision because in its perception the reputation of the profession had to be at the forefront of its thinking and ultimately it was more important than the interests of the respondent.
 
“The decision is not simply based on the fact that these offences were of a sexual nature but because they were repeated frequently over a significant period of time and at the time the respondent knew on his own admission that what he was doing was wrong.”
 
The respondent has 28 days in which to appeal the Committee’s decision. Provided no appeal is submitted he will be removed from the Register on Thursday 22 June.
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