Disciplinary Committee suspends Ireland-based vet from Register

8 June 2018

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has directed the Registrar to suspend a Republic of Ireland-based veterinary surgeon from the Register for a period of two years after he was convicted of 34 charges related to prescribing veterinary medicines.

Gary Adams was convicted at Gorey District Court, County Wexford, Republic of Ireland in March 2015 for:

  • Nine offences of prescribing animal remedies to animals not under his care;
  • Five offences of forging entries in official animal remedies records owned by farmers to suggest he had made visits to farms when he had not;
  • Seven offences of dispensing a prescription-only animal remedy but not preparing a veterinary prescription containing the details of the animals;
  • Two offences of failing to affix labels in the required form to prescription-only items when selling or supplying animal remedies;
  • Six offences of failing to annotate the dispensed prescriptions with the word ‘dispensed’ and failing to sign and date them;
  • Three offences of failing to keep a record or purchases and sales (including quantities administered) in respect of each incoming and outgoing transaction; and
  • Two offences of selling animal remedies on a wholesale basis without an animal wholesaler’s licence.

The charges related to treatment of animals not under his care throughout 2012 and 2013 which were investigated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in the Republic of Ireland.

In relation to these convictions Mr Adams received a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, was fined a total of €40,000 and ordered to pay costs of €16,400.

Following his conviction his conduct was considered by the Veterinary Council of Ireland’s (VCI) Fitness to Practice Committee and, in September 2017, the VCI a sanction of 12 months’ suspension from its Register. This sanction was upheld by the High Court in the Republic of Ireland in November 2017.

“The Committee found the conduct to be at the serious end of the spectrum for such misconduct, it being systematic, prolonged and illegal conduct relating to the supply of animal remedies which posed a significant risk to human and animal health," Professor Alistair Barr, DC Chair 

As well as being a registered veterinary surgeon in the Republic of Ireland, Mr Adams was also on the UK-practising Register with the RCVS, so his convictions were considered under the College’s own complaints and disciplinary process.

At the outset of the hearing, which took place on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 June, Mr Adams admitted the charges and accepted his convictions rendered him unfit to practise. Further, the College asserted that Mr Adams’ convictions rendered him unfit to practise, noting a number of aggravating factors including the risk of injury to animals, dishonesty, premeditation, financial gain and misconduct sustained and repeated over time.

In considering the College’s case and Mr Adams’ own admissions, the Disciplinary Committee agreed that his conduct rendered him unfit to practise veterinary surgery.

Professor Alistair Barr, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee found the conduct to be at the serious end of the spectrum for such misconduct, it being systematic, prolonged and illegal conduct relating to the supply of animal remedies which posed a significant risk to human and animal health.

“Accordingly, the Committee found that the convictions which led to these charges cumulatively render Mr Adams unfit to practise.”

“The Committee therefore decided that only a suspension of two years would maintain public confidence in the profession and declare and uphold proper standards of conduct for the serious nature of these charges,” Professor Alistair Barr. 

In considering the sanction, the Disciplinary Committee took into account a number of mitigating factors including that he had been practising since 1993 and had no previous disciplinary findings, had made open and frank admissions at all stages to the College and had practised between April 2013, when the matters first came to light, and February 2018, when he was suspended by the Veterinary Council of Ireland, without incident.

It also considered the conditions that were imposed upon Mr Adams by the VCI in terms of notification that he was intending to return to practice, auditing of his practice, his continuing professional development (CPD) and having to undertake personal and professional support programmes and arrangements for professional mentorship for one year after his return to practice.

In view of the sanctions already imposed by the court in Ireland, and his suspension by the VCI, the Disciplinary Committee decided that a period of two years’ suspension from the UK Register of Veterinary Surgeons was the appropriate sanction.

Professor Barr said: “Whilst Mr Adams would be able to practise in the Republic of Ireland before he was able to practise in the United Kingdom again, the Committee considered that the conditions attached to his supervision in Ireland meant that he would be subject to close supervision before he was allowed to practise again in the United Kingdom and that only a longer period of suspension would allow this to happen.

“The Committee therefore decided that only a suspension of two years would maintain public confidence in the profession and declare and uphold proper standards of conduct for the serious nature of these charges.”

Mr Adams has 28 days from being informed about the Disciplinary Committee’s decision to make an appeal to the Privy Council.

Please note:  this news story is to assist with understanding the circumstances of the case and the Committee's decision, it does not form part of the findings or decision. The Committee's full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.

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