Friday 23 February 2018

Dentist challenges removal of name from register over sex assault conviction

A DENTIST convicted of sexually assaulting a nurse at his surgery has brought an appeal against a decision erasing his name from the list of registered dentists.

Father-of-three, John Tait, was found guilty at Cork Circuit Court last May of sexually assaulting the then 19 year-old woman at his surgery at St Patrick's Terrace, in Douglas, Cork, on December 20, 2006.

Tait (61), of Glen House, Upper Rochestown, Cork, had denied the charge.

A jury convicted him by an 11-1 majority. Last June, Judge Raymond Fullam imposed a 15-month jail sentence on Tait for the offence but suspended it on condition he be of good behaviour.

During the trial, the jury heard that Dr Tait asked the young woman to remove her bra so he could feel her sternum during a procedure to check the alignment of her teeth and jaw.

The victim removed her bra but left on a tunic and a thermal vest and, after asking if he could unzip her tunic, Dr Tait lifted her vest without permission and exposed her breasts.

Arising out of his conviction the Dental Council decided, following a hearing last October, that his name be erased from the Register of Dentists. Once off the register he cannot practise as a dentist.

The Council's decision must be confirmed by the High Court before it can take effect.

However in proceedings which opened yesterday before the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, Dr Tait has appealed against the Dental Council's decision. The Dental Council has asked the court to dismiss his appeal.

Counsel for Dr Tait, Paul Anthony McDermott Bl, said the criminal case attracted a lot of media attention. As a result of his conviction both Dr Tait and his family had suffered.

His client had been working as a dentist, without a complaint before or after the one incident that resulted in his conviction, since the 1980's.

He was a hard working dentist who had engaged in research. Evidence at his trial had been publicly tendered on his behalf by professional colleagues, counsel added.

Dr. Tait had apologised to his victim for the distress that he had caused the victim.

It was also taken into account by the sentencing Judge that while what Dr Tait had done was extremely serious, it was on the lower end of the scale of offences of this type, counsel submitted.

Counsel said his client continues to practise since his conviction and wished to practise in the future.

The sentencing Judge's belief that Dr Tait was to cease working as a dentist was a mistake, counsel said. Dr Tait never said he was going to stop practising as a dentist.

Mr Justice Kearns said this was an important issue in the hearing before him. He adjourned the hearing to today (Wednesday) to allow the sides prepare a transcript of what was said at Dr Tait's sentencing hearing.

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