Following a two-year postponed judgment, the RCVS’ Disciplinary Committee warned a Cambridgeshire vet as to hisfuture conduct, after a 2006 conviction for causing deathby careless driving while under the influence of alcohol.
In September 2007, the Committee heard that Peter Hanlon of Soham, Cambridgeshire, was involved in a road traffic accident in February 2006. Mr Hanlon’s car had drifted across the road and collided with an oncoming car driven by James Barber who was accompanied by his wife, Ivy. Mr Barber was pronounced dead at the scene and both Mrs Barber and Mr Hanlon sustained injuries.
At the initial hearing, Mr Hanlon admitted the conviction (for which he had been sentenced to 30 months in prison and received a four-year driving ban) and the charge that it rendered him unfit to practise veterinary surgery. The committee decided to postpone its judgment for two years on the agreement that Mr Hanlon would undertake to abstain from alcohol and to submit quarterly medical reports and six-monthly CPD (continuing professional development) reports to the committee chairman.
At the resumed hearing on September 17, the committee carefully considered Mr Hanlon’s written and oral submissions, and accepted that he had fully complied with these undertakings. He had abstained from alcohol since the day after the accident, produced an “exemplary” CPD record and provided impressive reports from his employers concerning his professional competence.
In addition, Mr Hanlon, who spent around 14 months in prison and remained on licence until July 2009, also reiterated to the committee his remorse for the death of Mr Barber and respect for his family.
The committee was “mindful of its duty to maintain confidence in the veterinary profession and uphold proper standards of conduct”. Whilst it did not consider it necessary to postpone judgment again, it felt that Mr Hanlon should be warned about his future conduct.
Caroline Freedman, chairing the committee, concluded: “As this case has demonstrated, and as Mr Hanlon himself has fully recognised, abuse of alcohol can lead to far reaching consequences in personal and professional lives and the lives of others.”