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Miss Panait faced the charge that on 3 April 2018, at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, she was convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving for which she was sentenced to 10 months in prison, disqualified from driving for 41 months and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £140.
At the start of the hearing Miss Panait admitted to the charge against her which related to an accident on 15 May 2017 in which, following an attempt to overtake a number of vehicles, she lost control of her car and collided with a vehicle on the other side of the road, causing serious injuries to herself and life-changing injuries to the other driver. The Committee subsequently found this charge to be proved.
The Committee then considered whether the charge found proved made her unfit to practise veterinary surgery.
In doing so, it took into account the fact that Miss Panait was convicted of a serious crime which resulted in serious harm to another and for which she received a custodial sentence.
The Committee decided that the criminal conviction and the custodial sentence fell far below the standard expected of a veterinary surgeon and therefore rendered her unfit to practise veterinary surgery.
In considering her sanction, the Committee heard directly from Miss Panait who attended the hearing having been released from prison on licence.
Stuart Drummond, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: "After the submissions the respondent spoke directly to the Committee. She was understandably emotional and was remorseful and apologetic. She acknowledged that she had made a mistake and apologised for bringing the profession into disrepute…. To the Committee her sense of personal responsibility or shame was palpable."
The Committee also took into account other aggravating and mitigating factors in the case.
The Committee recognised that it was a serious offence with significant consequences for both the victim and Miss Panait but accepted it was a single isolated incident, that Miss Panait has made efforts to avoid repetition of the incident by undertaking further driving instruction and recognised that she had displayed full insight and remorse. Furthermore, it also considered the many testimonials from colleagues and clients and that she had received significant support from her employers.
Mr Drummond added: "The Committee came to the conclusion that this was one of those exceptionally unfortunate and sad cases where it is appropriate and proportionate to take no further action. The respondent has insight and is deeply remorseful and has accepted full responsibility for what has happened.
"In the circumstances of this case the Committee determined that the public interest has been met by the finding that the respondent’s conviction renders her unfit to practise. The Committee was of the view that to impose any sanction now would be disproportionate."
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