The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has struck off a pharmacist after he was sentenced to eight months in prison for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old patient in exchange for a free supply of the morning-after pill.
Satwant Singh Popley, registration number 2083383, admitted to touching and licking the breasts of the patient, who visited the Lloydspharmacy in Teddington Hospital in July 2014.
Mr Popley’s lawyer told the GPhC's fitness-to-practise committee that he “was a man of good character” who was unlikely to repeat his “10 minutes of madness”, in a hearing on May 23, 2016.
But the regulator found that the conviction had impaired his fitness to practise, and ruled that it was “proportionate and appropriate” to remove Mr Popley from the register.
Lacked social skills
Mr Popley was 26 at the time of the crime and “lived an isolated life and lacked social skills”, according to a pre-sentence report.
The GPhC heard that in his plea to Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court in August 2015, Mr Popley said the patient in question did not have the money for a contraceptive pill. In the pharmacy's consultation room, the patient asked if Mr Popley wanted to see her breasts, and he described his subsequent behaviour as "impulsive" and "inappropriate", the regulator heard.
After he had touched and licked the girl’s breasts, he gave her money to pay for the pill at the counter, the GPhC heard.
Mr Popley initially denied the offence, but pleaded guilty several months later after DNA testing showed that his DNA had been found on the inside of the victim’s clothes.
In a statement to the fitness-to-practise committee, Mr Popley described himself as “sexually immature and naïve”, in part due to his religious Sikh upbringing and an “unusual family dynamic”.
Mr Popley was not present at the hearing, but was represented by his lawyer, who described the registrant's conduct as “egregious”.
She pointed out that whilst in prison Mr Popley had made several attempts to access psychotherapy for sex offenders, and professional support to aid his rehabilitation. However his risk of reoffending had been assessed as too low to qualify for these services.
Character referees stated Popley had never been in an adult relationship, but was of “excellent moral character,” and they “considered him to be professional, hard-working and honest, respectful and reliable”.
Issue of public trust
His lawyer said Mr Popley had made a “grave mistake” and abused a position of trust. She admitted that “there was no positive case that could be made that fitness to practise in this case was not impaired”.
The committee noted the supportive testimonials, but also that he had initially denied the allegations, accused the patient of fabrication, and “sought to deflect the accusation or to conceal his actions”. It stressed that the alleged facts of the conviction had since been admitted.
The committee concluded that Mr Popley’s fitness to practise had been impaired as a result and ruled to strike him from the register.
Read the full determination here.
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