Doctor suspended for child abuse images

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 09:36 23/02/2013

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An Auckland doctor is believed to have worked in a paediatric ward the same month he was sentenced for possessing images of child abuse. 

Dr Vikram Abraham Joseph, 25, has been suspended from medical practice for 12 months, but could be back treating patients next year. 

A Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal decision released yesterday revealed the doctor continued to practise medicine, even after pleading guilty to six charges of possessing objectionable images of children aged under 14. 

Dr Joseph was sentenced at the Auckland District Court in October last year to 300 hours community work and 12-months supervision. 

He informed the Medical Council of the conviction, but his letter was "sparse in detail", according to Tribunal hearing notes. 

"Dr Joseph continued to undertake normal duties without restriction until October 2012 despite having been charged in December 2011." 

The Medical Council only realised the full extent of his offending when supplied with the Court's summary of facts. 

Dr Joseph may have worked on a Paediatric Ward in October 2012, the Tribunal said. 

Police began investigating Dr Joseph in August 2011 when his flatmate raised suspicions that he had been downloading images of child abuse. 

The flatmate came across the objectionable videos and photos on his computer while cleaning out pizza boxes from Dr Jospeh's room. 

When questioned by police, Dr Joseph offered no explanation to how the videos and images came to be on his computer, the Tribunal said. 

However, his evidence at the Tribunal hearing reported he had accidentally downloaded the inappropriate material.

"I inadvertently downloaded images of the type in question and I was not sexually aroused by them," Dr Joseph told the Tribunal. 

The Tribunal found this explanation did not fit with his guilty plea. 

"The Tribunal has also concluded that Dr Joseph was aware of the nature of these videos and that they included preteen hardcore porn or the like. 

"This is quite apparent from the description of the search terms." 

A psychological assessment of Dr Joseph found he did not pose a risk to the public, in particular children, and was at low risk of reoffending. 

Dr Joseph was suspended for 12 months from February 4, 2012. 

He can return to practise medicine under strict conditions, including undertaking psychological assessment and treatment. 

The doctor must be chaperoned when treating patients under the age of 15 for two years. He must also inform future employers of his convictions.

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Fairfax Media revealed in December an Auckland GP convicted of possessing images of child abuse is among the criminal medical professionals allowed to keep working.

Nineteen medical professionals with criminal convictions have appeared before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal in the past three years, with eight struck off.

Offences included grooming children for sex, assaulting a police officer, fraud and drug dealing.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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