Veterinary

Vet surgeon removed from register for possessing indecent images of children

The disciplinary committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has directed that a Portsmouth-based veterinary surgeon be removed from the register following his conviction for possessing indecent images of children.

The hearing regarding Simon Wood took place from Thursday 31 May to Friday 1 June 2018 and concerned his conviction in Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on 19 December 2017 for three offences of possessing indecent images of children, by downloading 38 videos and 13 images between 25 September 2016 and 12 May 2017.

He was subsequently sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on 22 January 2018 to a three-year community sentence for each offence, to run concurrently, and was made subject to a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Wood was also fined £1,000, ordered to pay costs of £340 and a victim surcharge of £85, and placed on the barring list by the Disclosure and Barring Service and required to register with the police pursuant to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for five years.

Simon Wood admitted to his conviction and said it rendered him unfit to practise veterinary surgery.

The committee took into account the fact that his conviction involved no actual harm or risk of harm to an animal, there was no financial gain and that he had engaged in open and frank admissions at an early stage.

It also considered that he was experiencing mental ill-health at the time of the offence, he had taken subsequent steps to avoid a repetition of such behaviour, there had been a significant lapse of time since the incident and he had showed insight into the harm caused by his offence.

Furthermore, it was considered that the purpose of a sanction is not to punish, but to protect the welfare of animals.

The committee thought about giving Wood a reprimand or warning, but decided that would not match the gravity of the offence. Suspension would also mean he would automatically return to the register after some time without the college being able to review his fitness to practise.

It was then decided that the removal of Wood from the RCVS register was the only way to protect the wider public interest and maintain confidence in the profession.

Ian Green, chairing the committee, said: “The committee 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.”

Mr Wood has 28 days to appeal the committee’s decision after which, if no appeal is received, the committee’s judgement takes effect.

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