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George Martin had appeared before the Disciplinary Committee in May 2017 in relation to an allegation that he was unfit to practise by virtue of his conviction, in the Edinburgh Sheriff Court, of two charges of Breach of the Peace (Sexual) which took place on various dates between August 2014 and March 2015 in several locations in Edinburgh.
Mr Martin was sentenced in September 2016 to a Community Pay-Back Order comprising a supervision period of 12 months and unpaid work/activities requirement of 160 hours, to be completed within six months. His name was added to the Sex Offenders’ Register for one year.
In May 2017 an RCVS Disciplinary Committee found that the conviction rendered the Mr Martin unfit to practise veterinary surgery.
In its decision on unfitness to practise, the Committee noted aggravating features including the potential for injury to the mental health of his victims, his recklessness as to the impact of his behaviour on the victims, the premeditated nature of his crimes, the repetition of his misconduct, and that the case involved sexual misconduct, therefore placing the applicant on the Sex Offenders’ Register for one year.
At the outset of the recent restoration hearing the College outlined the background of the Mr Martin’s case and being neutral as to the application itself the College invited the Committee to give particular consideration to a number of factors including the seriousness of the original findings, the length of time Mr Martin had been off the Register and to consider the application in the context of upholding the reputation of the profession and maintaining public confidence in the profession in particular ensuring that the very highest levels of public protection are maintained by the profession having regard to the trust vested by the public in veterinary surgeons and given the nature and context of the privileged and special access that veterinary surgeons have to the public.
The Committee then heard evidence from Mr Martin and from four character referees who know him in a professional and/or personal capacity. The Committee also took into account his evidence.
Ian Green, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: "It is clear that he has demonstrated genuine remorse and insight. He was able to articulate the negative impact that his criminal behaviour had inflicted on those veterinary surgeons who trained him and on the veterinary profession.
"The applicant in fact resigned from his position as a veterinary surgeon when he knew he was to be charged with the offences which demonstrated a responsible attitude on his part in seeking to protect the reputation of the profession.
"It was also clear from his own evidence that he now has a full understanding of the triggers and stressors that caused him to act in that way. The Committee was reassured by the applicant’s attendance and engagement with counselling with Relate counselling service, completion of an online course understanding violence against women… run by the University of Strathclyde; and the RCVS Mind Matters Course.
"In the intervening period of time from when he was removed from the register he has made significant efforts to keep himself up to date with CPD courses, observing in veterinary practices and volunteering.
"In the Committee’s view he has done as much as he possibly could to keep his veterinary skills up-to-date since he was removed from the register 21 months ago. This is not a case that concerns animal welfare issues and he was invariably described as a kind and caring veterinary surgeon."
Mr Green added: "The Committee had to consider whether that criminal behaviour is so abhorrent that it was fundamentally incompatible with restoration to the register. The Committee had no doubt that the behaviour is abhorrent and it was a gross violation of those victim’s rights.
"However, the Committee took into account the very particular circumstances of this case that existed at the time which triggered such a psychological reaction, were exceptional. It is also confident having regard to all the evidence, that the applicant is self-aware, can identify stress triggers and he is surrounded by a supportive professional and social network that the likelihood of repetition is remote."
After carefully considering all the evidence, the Committee made the decision that Mr Martin was fit to be restored to the Register and directed the Registrar to do accordingly.
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