A junior doctor convicted of downloading hundreds of child abuse images over a six-year period has been struck off.
ome of the images found in the possession of Dr Jonathan Ting Jun Lai were in the most serious category and included penetrative acts involving animals or sadism.
He was subsequently handed a 10-month prison sentence suspended for three years and placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.
A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) fitness to practise panel was told Dr Lai was convicted in April 2021 of 28 charges, including multiple counts of making and possessing an indecent photograph of a child, and possession of extreme pornography.
Initial concerns about Dr Lai were raised with the General Medical Council (GMC) on September 27, 2018, followed by a self-referral by Dr Lai on October 4, 2018 — more than a week after he was arrested by police.
The panel was told “Dr Lai’s actions did not involve a single act, but relate to conduct which took place over a prolonged period, reflecting serious behavioural and attitudinal issues”.
Counsel acting for the GMC also told the panel “there was a significant volume of images and videos involved — 295 still images, 219 videos — and that the judge had said in his sentencing remarks that those matters for which he had been convicted were a reference sample”.
The panel was told Dr Lai had downloaded hundreds of images on multiple devices throughout his entire time working for the Belfast Trust and up to his arrest on September 25, 2018 .
Further aggravating factors were that Dr Lai, whose address was given in court as Bradbury Court, Jubilee Road in south Belfast, were that some of the material depicted “very young children” and that he had access to sharing networks.
The MPTS findings continued: “Although there was no evidence that he had shared any images or videos, the fact that he had access to peer to peer and dark web facilities was nonetheless an aggravating factor”.
The panel was provided with a number of mitigating factors, including Dr Lai’s previous good character, that he had admitted his guilt at the earliest opportunity, and the fact the judge found him to be remorseful.
It was also told that Dr Lai, who is from Malaysia, “was experiencing social isolation”.
However, GMC counsel said Dr Lai had provided no evidence to demonstrate insight or remediation, and the absence of any form of treatment or psychiatric assessment made it more difficult to assess the risk he presents. She also argued that despite any mitigating circumstances, “Dr Lai’s misconduct was so severe that it is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration”.
She said while there was no evidence any patients had come to harm, she urged the tribunal to “adopt a cautious approach in assessing the risk Dr Lai poses to the public, in particular young children”.
The panel said it gave “little weight” to the mitigating factors, which “did not in any way mitigate the seriousness of Dr Lai’s actions nor negate the present and real risk Dr Lai poses to the public in light of the identified risk of repetition”.
It also said it was not content that he did not pose a risk to patients safety and concluded his fitness to practise was impaired and that erasure from the medical register was the only possible sanction to impose.