21 Oct 2019
A tribunal has disqualified a former nurse from applying for registration for six years for knowingly possessing child pornography (now called child abuse material).
Mr James Hutchinson was first registered as a nurse in March 2011. Between January 2012 and July 2014, while registered as a nurse, Mr Hutchinson knowingly possessed over 46,000 images and movies containing child abuse material. The materials were discovered after Mr Hutchinson pawned two of his computers and pawnshop staff alerted police, who charged Mr Hutchinson in September 2014.
In September 2016, the Frankston Magistrates’ Court convicted Mr Hutchinson of knowingly possessing child pornography material.
Mr Hutchinson has not been registered since 2016. In December 2017, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred Mr Hutchinson’s conduct to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal).
The tribunal found that by knowingly possessing over 46,000 images and videos containing child pornography, Mr Hutchinson behaved in a way that is inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to hold nursing registration. The tribunal found that this behaviour constitutes professional misconduct.
In making this finding, the tribunal commented that ‘it is, frankly abhorrent that a member of the nursing profession would commit an offence that by its nature implicitly involves the exploitation of vulnerable children.’ The tribunal further noted that ‘offending of this nature has the potential to seriously diminish public trust and confidence in the nursing profession.’ The tribunal accepted the NMBA’s submission that Mr Hutchinson had not yet demonstrated insight, remorse and prospects of rehabilitation.
The tribunal also found that Mr Hutchinson failed to notify the NMBA of a ‘relevant event’ in that he had been charged with knowingly possessing child pornography, which he was required to do in writing within seven days under the National Law1.
The tribunal reprimanded Mr Hutchinson and disqualified him for applying for registration as a nurse for six years. The tribunal emphasised that its orders do not mean that Mr Hutchinson will be automatically able to gain registration in six years’ time and that this will be a decision for the NMBA.
The decision is published on the Austlii website. For further information about the NMBA’s Criminal history registration standard, Code of conduct for nurses and Registered nurse standards for practice please visit the NMBA website.