A vet found guilty of sexual activity with animals and being in possession of extreme animal pornography has been removed from the RCVS Register of Veterinary Surgeons.

Oliver Lown of Suffolk was struck off on July 24 following a four-day disciplinary committee (DC) hearing, during which he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Lown, who graduated from Szent Istvan University in Hungary, claimed he had never practiced in the UK and did not attend the hearing, and was instead represented by Mr Jo Cooper, a solicitor-advocate.

Lown was found guilty of five charges:

  1. On September 1, 2011, he was in possession of extreme pornographic video images which portrayed people performing acts of intercourse with animals and, in relation to which, on April 13, 2012, at the Northallerton and Richmond Magistrates Court, he pleaded guilty to seven charges and was conditionally discharged.
  2. On September 1, 2011, he was in possession of sexually explicit still images involving animals.
  3. On September 1, 2011, he was in possession of a sexually explicit video image of a man having sexual intercourse with a sheep.
  4. Between approximately April 1 and June 25, 2009, he engaged in sexual activity with animals.
  5. In July and/or August 2011, he engaged in written communication via a computer messaging facility in which he made reference to sexual activity with animals and/or interest in the same.

According to the RCVS, Lown made three attempts to adjourn or keep the hearing out of the public eye. On the first day of the hearing, he made an application to the DC that the hearing should be held in private on the basis that any publicity of the case would “offend public morality” due to the nature of the allegations.

He also pleaded for a private hearing due to his father’s ill-health, which he claimed could be adversely affected by any publicity. The DC rejected the plea as the allegations were already in the public domain. Lown made a further appeal the next day to adjourn charges two to five on the basis that he had already admitted and received a conditional discharge and would not oppose the removal.

He argued that the Royal College was “flawed” to register him in 2013, being fully aware of his conditional discharge. He made a final appeal that afternoon to have the case adjourned on the grounds that new documentation he had received had led his lawyers to conclude that the decision to register him may have been unlawful.

The DC then heard evidence in relation to charges two to five, including that of two officers from North Yorkshire Police who took part in the original investigation, who the committee found to be “credible and reliable witnesses”. After reviewing the evidence, the DC found that all four charges were proven.  

The committee considered the appropriate sanction for Mr Lown and took into account a number of “aggravating factors” including the risk of injury to animals, premeditated misconduct, sexual misconduct, misconduct sustained or repeated over a period of time, and his lack of insight into the offences or his overall conduct.  

Prof Noreen Burrows, chairing the Disciplinary Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “In these circumstances, the committee has no doubt that the respondent’s conduct was of the utmost seriousness. The material found in possession of the respondent and his own conduct in charge 4 involved the abuse of animals and a total lack of respect for their welfare.

“In the judgement of the committee each of the charges individually amounts to disgraceful conduct and the charges certainly amount to disgraceful conduct when taken cumulatively.”

The committee’s full findings and decision are available on the RCVS website (www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary).  

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