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Social worker convicted of possession of steroids is suspended

Social worker suspended following conviction of possession with intent to supply a controlled Class C drug

Published on 31st January 2019

A social worker convicted of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of Class C – Anabolic Steroids has been suspended from the HCPC register.

Joseph R Taylor-Hannah told the HCPTS Panel that he had been “stupid and naive” but had not considered what he was doing to be "dealing, just as getting for his friend…”.

Mr Taylor-Hannah was employed by The Children’s Family Trust. Police interest in him began when they raided a property and container unit and discovered a mobile telephone, with a contract taken out in Mr Taylor-Hannah's name. The police raid had been in connection with the manufacture of anabolic steroids.

He was was subsequently arrested, at his home address on 2 December 2016. During the arrest his property was searched and he was found to have £1000 worth of anabolic steroids in his possession and a large amount of cash. Mr Taylor-Hannah was granted conditional bail pending further enquires, for committing the offence of "Possession with Intent to Supply a controlled drug of Class C - Other.”

Mr Taylor-Hannah informed his employer about his arrest and was subsequently suspended from his employment. He was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing on 14 December 2016, but he resigned from his job in advance.

Although he was originally charged with being part of a wider conspiracy, along with a number of co-defendants, Mr Taylor-Hannah subsequently pleaded guilty to an offence of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of Class C- anabolic steroids, contrary to section 4(1)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, at Mold Crown Court in 3 April 2018. This was after the indictment was altered, on the first day of the trial, in effect dropping the conspiracy allegations against him.

In May 2018, Mr Taylor-Hannah was sentenced at Mold Crown Court to nine months imprisonment, which was suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work before 25 May 2019. In passing sentence, the judge noted that the quantity of drugs which Mr Taylor-Hannah had was described in the evidence as “large”.

He admitted that the steroids found in his address were for supply to others and that the quantity of cash, which was said to be about £6000, represented the proceeds for the supply of steroids. Mr Taylor-Hannah sold the steroids on behalf of a male who he would not initially name, but that individual had asked him to acquire a mobile telephone SIM card registered in his name in or around 2011/2012. He subsequently identified this male as one of his fellow defendants in his second interview. Mr Taylor-Hannah maintains that he only supplied steroids to friends and conceded that he supplied the steroids to others in order to pay for his own.

Giving evidence to the HCPTS Panel, Mr Taylor-Hannah expressed regret at his actions and told the Panel he was younger, and would not find himself in a similar position again.  He no longer uses steroids, has left the gym where he used to train and has changed his friendship circles. He is now open with his family about his previous use and they are supportive of him. The last two years have been very hard and he has not been tempted to return to using steroids.

Mr Taylor-Hannah denied any dependency on steroids but did concede that there was a mental element to this, in terms of his physical appearance and looking good. He had spent considerable time reflecting on why he no longer needs steroids and now feels better, and sleeps better. He has less aggression and feels “more at one with himself.” He has not been able to afford professional support on this occasion but used his previous experience of therapy  to undertake “self-directed counselling”.

In his evidence he denied making any personal financial gain out of the supply of steroids to friends. He stated that he ended up purchasing steroids on behalf of friends, as he lived in closer proximity to the supplier. His evidence was that the £6000 had been given to him by friends to pay for steroids and in fact was owed to the supplier. The only personal financial advantage was that there was a reduced price, because of a collective or bulk purchase. He did not think about the wider implications at the time.

He would collect steroids on behalf of himself and three other friends and collectively they were spending £1000 per month.
Currently employed in an admin role, Mr Taylor-Hannah is due to start a new a job as a trainee quantity surveyor in the construction sector. He made a conscious decision not to work in social care following his conviction and felt it would be hypocritical to do so and would undermine the profession and regulatory process. He did express the strong desire to return to social work in the future. To that end, he has sought to keep up to date with his Continuing Professional Development.

A letter confirmed he had completed the unpaid work requirement which was imposed upon him.

In reaching its decision, the Panel noted the severity of the offence and he had breached a fundamental tenet of the profession of being a social worker. However, they also took into consideration the risk of repetition was low, Mr Taylor-Hannah co-operated with the police and admitted his guilt at the earliest opportunity, he has has been fully engaged in the HCPC proceedings and did not oppose the imposition an Interim Suspension Order, he made a number of admissions in these proceedings, which demonstrated that he has shown a level of insight into his offending behaviour and showed genuine remorse. He was was of previous good character and provided references, showing that he was very well regarded as a social worker by his former employer, prior to his arrest.

The Panel considered a Suspension Order and determined that this was a suitable and proportionate sanction, adequately reflecting the seriousness of the offence and issued a Suspension Order for six months.

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