Veterinary authorities in Britain have ordered that a vet be struck off the register for serious professional misconduct over five charges relating to possession of extreme animal pornography and sexual activity with animals, including a horse.
The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons made the ruling in respect of Oliver Fraser Lown, of Suffolk, last Thursday, at the end of a hearing in London.
Lown, who graduated from Szent Istvan University in Hungary, has stated that he has never practised in Britain, according to the disciplinary committee.
Lown did not attend the disciplinary committee hearing, but was represented by Mr Jo Cooper, a solicitor-advocate.
He was accused of five charges of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect:
- On September 1, 2011, he had in his possession extreme pornographic video images which portrayed people performing acts of intercourse with animals and, in relation to which, on April 13, 2012, at the Northallerton and Richmond Magistrates’ Court, he pleaded guilty to seven charges and was conditionally discharged.
- On September 1, 2011, he was in possession of sexually explicit still images involving animals.
- On September 1, 2011, he was in possession of a sexually explicit video image of a man having sexual intercourse with a sheep.
- Between April 1, 2009, and June 25, 2009, he engaged in sexual activity with animals.
- On July 2011 and/or August 2011, he engaged in written communication via a computer messaging facility in which he made reference to sexual activity with animals and/or interest in the same.
The charge of engaging with sexual activity with animals related to video footage obtained during a police search of a farm in North Yorkshire of a man described in the evidence as Male A. A seized laptop contained, among much other material, two videos, depicting a male engaging in sexual activity with a horse in a stable setting and a dog in a house setting. The male in the video was positively identified as Lown by Detective Constable Karl Middlemiss, of the North Yorkshire police, who gave evidence to the committee. Lown was identified partly by a green star-shaped tattoo on his leg.
The committee said that on the first day of the hearing, on July 21, Lown applied to have the hearing held in private on the basis that any publicity about the case “would offend public morality” due to the nature of the allegations and because the respondent’s father suffers from ill-health, which could be adversely affected by any publicity.
The committee rejected the application on the grounds that the nature of the allegations was already in the public domain and that public justice in the context of professional regulation outweighed the private concerns of the respondent regarding his father.
On the second day, his counsel made an application to adjourn charges 2-5 on the basis that he had already admitted, and received a conditional discharge, for the first charge and would, therefore, not oppose removal from the register, with an undertaking never to re-apply.
The respondent argued the original decision of the college to register him in July 2013 was flawed because it was unfair to admit him, in awareness of his conditional discharge, apparently for the purpose of taking disciplinary proceedings against him.
He also referred to the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to prosecute him in respect of charge 4.
This application was dismissed by the committee on the grounds of the gravity of charges 2-5 and the fact he chose to apply to join the register and had been advised to seek legal advice regarding his conditional discharge beforehand.
Furthermore, the committee heard that there was no error at the time of his registration because the conditional discharge was not a conviction and therefore, under the Veterinary Surgeons Act, there was no option to refuse registration.
In the judgment of the committee, each of the charges individually amounted to disgraceful conduct and the charges certainly amounted to disgraceful conduct when taken cumulatively.
It then heard evidence in relation to charges 2-5, including that of two officers from North Yorkshire Police who took part in the original investigation, who the committee found to be credible and reliable witnesses. After reviewing the evidence, the committee found that all four charges were proven.
The committee then considered the appropriate sanction for Lown, and took into account a number of aggravating factors, including the risk of injury to animals, premeditated misconduct, sexual misconduct, misconduct sustained or repeated over a period of time and his lack of insight into the offences or his overall conduct.
Committee chairwoman Professor Noreen Burrows, speaking on its behalf, said: “In these circumstances, the committee has no doubt that the respondent’s conduct was of the utmost seriousness.
“The material found in possession of the respondent and his own conduct in charge 4 involved the abuse of animals and a total lack of respect for their welfare.
“In the judgement of the committee each of the charges individually amounts to disgraceful conduct and the charges certainly amount to disgraceful conduct when taken cumulatively.”
In order to safeguard animal welfare, maintain public confidence in the profession and uphold proper standards of conduct, the committee directed the registrar to remove Lown from the register.