An Oxfordshire-based veterinary surgeon has been removed from the RCVS register after he pleaded guilty to sexual offences in court.
The RCVS disciplinary committee hearing for George Martin took place on 17-18 May after he pleaded guilty to two charges of breach of the peace (sexual) at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in August 2016.
Underwear and genitalia
Charges related to Mr Martin using recording equipment at various locations in Edinburgh between August 2014 and March 2015 in order to record underwear and genitalia, while he was a student at the veterinary school.
The committee found his conviction meant 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
- the sexual nature of the crimes
Context of ill health
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 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 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 he had been open and honest about his conviction with employers
- the risk of reoffending was low
- that he had developed some insight into his behaviour and the harm it caused
Protecting public interest
Chitra Karve, chairing the committee, said: “The committee reached the conclusion 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 22 June.