The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Disciplinary Committee has directed that a veterinary surgeon be suspended from the Register for one month after he was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation at Isleworth Crown Court on 19 December 2019.
The disciplinary hearing relating to Daniel Doherty took place on 4-6 April and 24-25 May 2022. Mr Doherty’s criminal conviction related to a conspiracy to commit fraud by making false representations to members of the public that puppies being sold were home-bred. The Crown Court found that Mr Doherty’s role in vaccinating the puppies and providing vaccination and health check cards, materially contributed to the impression that the puppies were home-bred locally and in good health.
Mr Doherty was initially convicted of this offence, resulting in eight months’ imprisonment in April 2018. Mr Doherty subsequently appealed the conviction, which was quashed and resulted in a retrial. On retrial, Mr Doherty was convicted and sentenced in January 2020 to 24 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, 150 hours community service and a £100 victim surcharge.
When deciding on the sanction, the Committee considered that a period of suspension would be sufficient to meet the public interest. In reaching this conclusion, the Committee took into account that Mr Doherty had, as part of his original conviction, already served eight months in prison before the original conviction was quashed and replaced, on retrial, with a suspended sentence. He had therefore already, in effect, had a period of suspension from practice, which meant that the deterrent factor in a sanction of suspension had been partially met.
In reaching its decision, the Committee also took into account the circumstances of this case and, in particular, the view of the court that Mr Doherty had been motivated solely by animal welfare concerns and not financial gain, and that it was this overriding concern that had allowed others to exploit his willingness to continue to vaccinate puppies despite their source.
There were no concerns as to Mr Doherty’s skill or dedication as a veterinary surgeon and with regard to the single issue of the appropriate vaccination of puppies and their onward sale, the Committee noted the changes that Mr Doherty had made to his practice procedures to avoid any similar problems occurring in the future.
Cerys Jones, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee decided that the seriousness of Mr Doherty’s conduct merited a period of suspension to meet the justice of this case and in the interest of the public to maintain proper professional standards and uphold confidence in the profession.
“It determined that a period of nine months would be appropriate. However, as Mr Doherty had been unable to practice during his incarceration, it considered that this should be fully reflected in the length of suspension so as to reduce the period that would otherwise have been served. On that basis it determined that the ultimate period of suspension should be that of one month.”
The full decision and findings from the hearing can be found on the RCVS’s website.