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Reading-based vet removed from Register for possessing indecent images of children and extreme images of animal abuse

By 22/02/2022No Comments

Please note that this news story contains reference to child and animal abuse.

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has directed that a veterinary surgeon be removed from the Register after he was convicted by Oxford Magistrates’ Court and subsequently sentenced at Oxford Crown Court for offences of possessing indecent images of children and 22 images of extreme animal abuse.

The hearing for Dr Walter Dingemanse took place online on 14 and 15 February 2022. Dr Dingemanse attended the hearing and was represented by his solicitor, Mr Primmer. Dr Dingemanse had one conviction relating to four separate offences committed in 2019 of making indecent photographs of a child Category A, B and C and possession of 22 extreme pornographic images that were grossly offensive.

Dr Dingemanse was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, directed to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years and fined £420 for prosecution costs and £140 victim surcharge.

In relation to the charges, the Committee were presented with evidence taken from the transcripts of Dr Dingemanse’s Crown Court sentencing hearing. The transcript outlined that Dr Dingemanse used an online messaging service to engage in conversations about child sexual abuse under a pseudonym. His IP address was traced, and he was arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

During the sentencing of Dr Dingemanse, the Crown Court Judge observed that Dr Dingemanse was a man of high intelligence who had trained as a vet and had successfully undertaken a PhD. The judge added that he could not understand how someone with such ability and intelligence could engage in such behaviour.

Counsel for the College submitted to the Disciplinary Committee that the nature of circumstances of the offences rendered Dr Dingemanse unfit to practise as a veterinary surgeon. Mr Primmer indicated to the Committee that Dr Dingemanse accepted this.

In its decision relating to Dr Dingemanse’s fitness to practise, the Committee described Dr Dingemanse’s behaviour which led to the conviction as “inexplicable” and “abhorrent”, and that his possession of the images of children and animals was “disgraceful conduct of the most grievous and reprehensible kind.”

The Committee did not consider that there were any mitigating factors in the case, but did consider there to be several aggravating factors including: actual (albeit indirect) injury to an animal or child; the risk of harm to an animal or child; lack of integrity for a regulated professional to have behaved in such a way; premeditated conduct; and, that the offences involved vulnerable children and animals.  

Cerys Jones, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, added: “Dr Dingemanse’s conduct was [also] liable to have a seriously detrimental effect on the reputation of the profession and to undermine public confidence in the profession. The fact that he was a veterinary surgeon was made clear at the Crown Court hearing. The Committee considered that members of the public would rightly be appalled that a registered veterinary surgeon had committed offences of this nature.”

When deciding on the appropriate sanction, the Committee took into account all of the evidence, including Dr Dingemanse’s expression of remorse and steps towards rehabilitation. Mr Primmer invited the Committee to consider suspending Dr Dingemanse from the Register as his client’s sanction, but the Committee did not feel that this was appropriate.

Cerys Jones added: “The Committee considered that suspending Dr Dingemanse’s registration would not be sufficient to maintain confidence in the profession and that therefore, for public interest reasons, as well as animal protection, a suspension would not be sufficient. The Committee was of the view that the nature and seriousness of Dr Dingemanse’s behaviour, which led to the conviction, was fundamentally incompatible with being registered as a veterinary surgeon and that all of the above matters listed were applicable in this case. The Committee decided that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case was removal from the Register.”

Dr Dingemanse has 28 days from being notified of his removal from the Register to lodge an appeal with the Privy Council.

The Committee’s full findings can be viewed at www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary

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