Support worker struck off after vigilantes expose ‘child sex chat’

Michael Docherty thought he was talking online to a 13-year-old boy, but was instead communicating with an adult.

Support worker struck off after vigilantes expose ‘child sex chat’ Dusanpetkovic via IStock
Struck off: Michael Docherty has been banned from working in the care industry.

A man who was snared by online paedophile hunters has been banned from working in the care industry.

Michael Docherty thought he was talking to a 13-year-old boy. Instead, he was communicating with an adult from a vigilante group.

As well as a number of sexual chats, Docherty also sent an indecent picture.

The incidents were said to have taken place between May 17 and June 30, 2020.

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Following Docherty’s conviction at Hamilton Sheriff Court in April this year, the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) found his fitness to practise impaired.

Docherty, who worked in adult social care in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, has now been struck off the register.

The removal order came into effect on October 1.

In a written ruling, the SSSC said: “Social care workers must not act in a way, inside or outside work, which calls into question their suitability to work in social care.

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“You have been convicted of two sexual offences, namely attempting to communicate indecently with a child and attempting to cause a child to view a sexual image.

“Such convictions are extremely serious and your behaviour is fundamentally incompatible with working in social care.”

The watchdog said Docherty’s behaviour was “almost impossible to remediate”.

The SSSC added: “It is a fundamental tenet of the social care profession that workers protect vulnerable people from harm.

“Whilst the behaviour took place outside work, and there was no harm to service users, it nonetheless involved you attempting to take advantage of a vulnerable young person.

“Such behaviour is extremely serious.”

Although Docherty’s convictions were isolated and he admitted his guilt, he failed to provide comments to the SSSC demonstrating insight or remorse, or any mitigating circumstances.

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The watchdog concluded that a removal order was the “most appropriate sanction”.