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Tribunal disqualifies former nurse for four and a half years

24 Oct 2019

A tribunal has disqualified a former enrolled nurse from applying for registration for four and a half years for professional misconduct concerning criminal conduct.

On 9 August 2017, Ms Stacey Jane Gaffney pleaded guilty to aggravated unlawful detention causing serious harm and was convicted for this offence. On 20 September 2017, Ms Gaffney was given a suspended sentence of two years and two months imprisonment. The factual basis for that sentence included that:

  • an innocent defenceless young woman was subjected to a terrifying ordeal lasting about 18 hours during which she was tortured, humiliated and degraded, and
  • the entire episode was a campaign of terror and torture some offenders playing more significant roles but all offenders (including Ms Gaffney) participating in the aggravated unlawful detention.

Ms Gaffney failed to notify the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) of being charged with aggravated unlawful detention, aggravated causing serious harm and theft or her conviction, which she was required to do under the National Law1.

Following her conviction, the NMBA referred Ms Gaffney to the South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal (the tribunal).

Ms Gaffney admitted that her behaviour amounted to professional misconduct by bringing the nursing profession into disrepute, and that her failure to report the criminal charges was unprofessional conduct.

The tribunal noted the sentencing remarks from Judge Costello in Ms Gaffney’s criminal conviction, particularly that she had a "cavalier, arguably callous, disregard for [the] victim’s welfare" and "…whilst [her] role in the kidnapping was far less serious than that of others, [she] nevertheless facilitated its continuation by permitting [the other offenders] to remain in a house in relation to which [she] [was] lawfully able to demand that they leave".

The tribunal found, among other things, that Ms Gaffney:

  • lacked insight into her responsibilities to protect the victim from criminal behaviour on her property, and
  • failed to take appropriate action in accordance with her professional standing to help the victim.

The tribunal reprimanded Ms Gaffney and disqualified her for applying for registration as a nurse for four years and six months. The tribunal ordered Ms Gaffney to pay a $2000 contribution to the NMBA costs.

The decision is published on the tribunal website. For further information about the NMBA’s Criminal history registration standard and Code of conduct for nurses visit the NMBA website.

1The Health Practitioner Regulation Agency National Law Act 2009, as in force in each state and territory.

Page reviewed 24/10/2019