April 2018

Paramedic who was caught trying to meet boy, 14, by paedophile hunters suspended

A paramedic and volunteer nurse who was caught trying to meet a teenage boy by online paedophile hunters has been suspended from nursing for a year.

Kevin Peel started talking to who he thought was a 14-year-old boy on dating app Grindr, but was in fact a fake profile set up by vigilantes Guardians of the North.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel heard that Peel sent ‘Ryan’ a message offering to perform a sex act on him despite being told “I’ve never done anything before I’m 14”.

Peel, who at the time was a paramedic at the North East Ambulance Service and volunteered with St John’s Ambulance as a nurse, also sent the boy a picture of himself in his underwear and invited him round to his house.

The NMC hearing was told that Peel arranged to meet ‘Ryan’ at Sunderland Ski Slope in September 2016, but when he got there was confronted by members of Guardians of the North.

The group detained him, called the police and filmed the encounter.

A report of the hearing said Peel was cautioned and arrested by the police for grooming a child online, but the conclusion of the police investigation led to no further action against him.

Now the NMC have ruled that Peel should be suspended from nursing for 12 months after finding his behaviour was “an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career”.

The panel was told that Peel was using adult-only same sex dating app Grindr on September 3 2016 when he started chatting to a user called Ryan.

After brief introductions Guardians of the North, posing as Ryan, told him: “I’m 14 so never done anything before.”

Peel then replied: “Ah cool, u fancy lads though?”, and then, “There anything u fancy trying with lads?”

The next day he resumed conversation with Ryan and asked him “so you looking for a bit of fun on here?” before offering to perform a sex act on him.

After Ryan responded “I don’t know, I’ve never done anything before I’m 14 so new to this”, the panel heard Peel “subsequently and repeatedly suggested to Ryan swapping photographs of each other” before sending him a picture of himself on a bed in just his underwear.

A report of the hearing said: “During the course of this conversation, you twice suggested to meet up with Ryan at your home address or, on one occasion, at Sunderland Ski Slope. “Ryan agreed to meet up at Sunderland Ski Slope.”

But when he arrived at the ski slope he was confronted and then arrested.

The NMC panel said there were “discrepancies” between Peel’s statements as to how sure he was that Ryan was 14 years old.

In his first statement to police he admitted “there were some risqué comments of which I am deeply ashamed of, especially having known the male’s age”, but in a statement made in March this year he said: “I thought that he may not be 14 as you cannot join the site unless you are 18.”

In his evidence at the hearing he told the panel he said he had “skim-read” the message from Ryan that read “I don’t know I’m 14 so never done anything before”.

The report said: “You told the panel that you were unsure as to whether Ryan was an adult or a child, but you agreed to meet up with him intending to provide advice and mentoring support about his sexuality, if he was indeed 14 years old.”

But the panel found that there was “no evidence” Peel had intended to provide “advice and mentoring support” to Ryan.

The hearing was told that Peel has not worked as a nurse or paramedic since the incident in September 2016.

The panel ruled that he should not be struck off after finding his misconduct was “an isolated incident in a 10-year career as a registered nurse without cause for concern”.

But they said he should be suspended from nursing for 12 months.

Their ruling said: “The panel accepted that you did not use Grindr with the express purpose of looking for sexual activity with someone below the age of consent. However, you did not remove yourself instantly from such a situation when it presented itself.

“The panel considered that, although your misconduct could be described as sexual in nature, it needed to be seen in its proper context. The panel took into account that there was no actual harm caused to anyone as a result of your misconduct and you did not abuse your position of trust as a registered nurse during the course of your online conversations.”

A North East Ambulance spokeswoman said: “Allegations regarding this former employee came to our attention and we took appropriate disciplinary action, following an investigation, which is in line with our internal procedures. The matter was also referred to the professional bodies, HCPC and NMC.

“Whilst the allegations concerned did not affect any of our patients, the safety and welfare of our patients must always be our priority.”