North Yorkshire vet 'tried to carry out surgery on former partner's eyelid'

A vet accused of attempting to carry out surgery on a former partner's eyelid has been suspended for six months.

The case was heard by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon's disciplinary committee

Richard Sutcliffe also faced disciplinary action by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons after being convicted at Harrogate Magistrates Court of two counts of common assault by beating.

A report by the RCVS’s disciplinary committee said his former partner was due to have a lump on her eyelid surgically removed in September 2015.

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Mr Sutcliffe, who at the time had a practice in Harrogate, is alleged to have said he could “take it off in a flash.”

The College’s case was that one Friday evening in late August or early September 2015 the pair were at home when he either injected or attempted to inject a veterinary prescription-only medication licensed for local anaesthesia in horses into her inner eyelid.

The report said: “It is not clear whether liquid was actually administered but certainly there was an attempt to do so.

Ms A’s eyelid was immediately very painful and she felt liquid running down her cheek.”

It was alleged he made four attempts, and that he took a scalpel to the lump, but as soon as he touched it she realised the injection had not number her eyelid and moved away.

Mr Sutcliffe, however, gave a different version of events in a letter to the RCVS, saying she had persuaded him to attempt the procedure.

He said no drug was injected, as she “could not sit still enough for me to inject anything.”

Mr Sutcliffe admitted trying to get hold of the lump with forceps, but said he was unable to do so and no anaesthetic was administered, adding: “I became uncomfortable with the plan and so refused to carry on.”

The committee said Mr Sutcliffe admitted the charges relating to the attempted surgery and was “thereby guilty of disgraceful conduct” but said there was a “clear factual dispute” as to who had persuaded whom.

Of the assault convictions, against the former partner and a child, it added: “The respondent has admitted these convictions render him unfit to practice veterinary surgery.”

Harrogate Magistrates handed him a 12-month community order, a restraining order preventing him from contacting the victims and a fine of £307 and costs of £620, following a trial in 2016.

The Recorder considering the case on appeal described “seven hours of appalling, disgraceful behaviour”, including threats to set the house on fire and turning off all the electricity so the house was plunged into darkness and “extremely unpleasant" assaults.

The disciplinary committee dismissed a third allegation of supplying codeine phosphate to Ms A, which Mr Sutcliffe denied.

Chairman Professor Alistair Barr said they accepted his conduct was “wholly out of character” but having regards to both aggravating and mitigating factors, a six-month suspension was deemed “sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession.”

Asked for a response by The Yorkshire Post Mr Sutcliffe said he had appealed his convictions, but they had been “upheld unfortunately.”

He said: “I gave my account of what happened to the Royal College, but they can’t accept that because the court has ruled I have done it. The (court) sentence was very lenient in view of what I was supposed to have done.

“I have received 50 odd character references that all spoke with one voice and that portrayed a person who was dramatically opposed to the person (the complainant) portrayed. There were other allegations that were found unproven.”

He confirmed his practice Eclipse Equine would not operate for six months.