Child porn nurse struck off after pleading guilty

Stephen McFarlane pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. picture: Greg Macvean

Stephen McFarlane pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. picture: Greg Macvean

0
Have your say

A NURSE who worked on a psychiatric ward in the Lothians has been struck off for ­possessing more than 200 indecent images of children.

Stephen McFarlane was kicked out of the profession by the Nursing and Midwifery Council after pleading guilty to child-porn charges at an earlier court hearing.

The nursing watchdog was told how the mental health nurse was employed as a staff nurse on an acute psychiatric ward at the time police raided his home in December 2011.

They found 219 indecent images on his computer – 22 of which were classed as level four, the second-most serious category.

McFarlane pleaded guilty to offences relating to indecent images of children when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in October last year.

It led to him being placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for three years and he was also sentenced to a three-year ­probation order.

In a separate incident, McFarlane was also convicted of dangerous driving on the M8 motorway for speeding while being pursued by the police in May 2013.

The panel was told how McFarlane had worked for NHS Lothian for more than 15 years when police first swooped to his address.

A certified transcript of his sentencing hearing confirmed the charges brought and found the allegation proved, whichamounted to serious misconduct, they said.

Striking him off the register, the report said: “Mr McFarlane did not treat these children with dignity and respect and failed in his duty to protect the wider community. The panel was of the view that these were not victimless crimes. Mr McFarlane failed to be open, honest and act with integrity and he did not uphold the ­reputation of the profession.

“He did not adhere to the laws of the country in which he was practising.”

Alasdair Kennedy, representing the NMC, described McFarlane’s actions as “deplorable.” He added that McFarlane had also “put the public at risk whilst driving dangerously”.

It said little was known about what McFarlane was doing now, but noted he ­demonstrated “very little insight” and a “risk of repetition remains”.

Aggravating factors, including that it related to sexual misconduct, the number and level of images and that McFarlane had distributed some of the images, meant he broke fundamental tenets of the profession.

The panel concluded that striking off was the only ­sanction to protect the public interest, adding public ­confidence in the profession would only be sustained if McFarlane was removed from the register.

McFarlane was not at the hearing, but an NMC case officer said the former nurse had fully expected to be struck off.

An interim suspension order of 18 months was also issued following the hearing last month, in case of an appeal.

If no appeal is made, the interim suspension order will be replaced by the striking off order, 28 days after McFarlane is sent the decision in writing.

A spokesperson for NHS Lothian confirmed: “He is no longer employed by NHS Lothian.”