Child porn images doctor gets suspended sentence

Piotr Dziurdzik arrives at Antrim Crown Court to be sentenced for child pornography offences
Piotr Dziurdzik arrives at Antrim Crown Court to be sentenced for child pornography offences

A 47-year-old former doctor with the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, who had nearly 3,000 images of child sex abuse, has been freed on a nine-month suspended jail term.

Judge Sandra Crawford said she was “satisfied” the offending of the Polish anaesthetist, Piotr Dziurdzik, “did not require an immediate custodial sentence”.

Then speaking directly to Dziurdzik, she added: “This finely balanced decision is based on your genuine remorse and the significant steps that have been taken to address your offending.

“Reports submitted to the court suggest you are not a dangerous offender and have been presented at low risk of reoffending,” said the Antrim Crown Court judge, who also warned the doctor should he “commit any further offences in this two-year period you will be sent to custody”.

Dziurdzik, already suspended by the General Medical Council, and expecting to be ‘struck off’, now hopes to return to his native Poland. However, there is no chance of the anaesthetist setting up practice there as his lawyer has already acknowledged.

Barrister Francis Rafferty revealed last week that there were “no circumstances in which he will be able to practise medicine again and quite rightly expects to be barred from practice ... there will be for some time, if not forever, a very watchful eye on Dr Dziurdzik”.

In all the once-respected doctor pleaded guilty to a total of 33 offences, including 27 of making indecent photographs of children, committed between 2012 and 2015. Among the indecent images were over 200 in the most serious categories four and five.

In addition to his concurrent sentences of nine months on each count, suspended for two years, Dziurdzik was also made the subject of a 10-year SOPO, Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Prosecutor Michael Chambers had told the court that when confronted by police Dziurdzik readily admitted: “Yes, true”, and also explained: “It happened on occasion I was watching adult sites, there was links to sites we’re talking about. It’s not my area of interest.”

Mr Chambers said when later interviewed by police the once-respected, but now shamed and remorseful anaesthetist described what he was doing as “a paradox ... knowing something is forbidden” and likened it to “Adam and Eve ... the forbidden apple”.

The vast majority of the images were of girls, although there were a number showing small boys, and the age range of the children was substantially between eight and 12, although some were as young as five or six.

The doctor, who claimed he was often drunk when viewing images, was also “shocked by the age range” of the children being abused, and “taken aback by the number” he’d amassed.

Mr Rafferty said Dziurdzik’s behaviour was both “disgraceful and appaulling” but not once had he tried to minimise his role, and while he had lost everything, had not attempted to equate his suffering to the suffering of children being abused online.

Mr Rafferty said it was “quite clear ... from reports ... that this was a man, to coin a cliche, who had it all ... an excellent job ... he had remarkably high level of qualifications ... working his entire life for the benefit of others .... who had achieved success in that role ... and exceptionally well thought of by his peers ... a man who could be looked up to ... a man who made something of himself”.

Given all of that, he added, it would be “rare for the courts to witness a more precipitous fall from grace”. In effect, said Mr Rafferty, the once great doctor had “put a bomb under that and destroyed all of that”.

It was also clear from reports, said the lawyer, that at no time had Dziurdzik “come across as poor me, look at what I’ve lost. He does not feel sorry for himself or make no attempt to minimise his behaviour, the gravity of the offences, and the requirement of others to suffer so this offending can take place”.

Mr Rafferty also revealed that for the past year the anaesthetist has been seeking professional help from specialists in the field of sexual offending in an effort to understand what had happened and gone wrong.

Dziurdzik, he said, had started off watching legal adult porn but given its availability he soon became “inured to it” and went looking for more challenging material and “ultimately illegal porn”.

Mr Rafferty said that “once he had stepped down that rabbit hole he was lost ... he took a course which he was unable to step back from”.