A St. John's doctor convicted of drug trafficking and sexual assault has been found guilty of professional misconduct and had his medical licence revoked.
Dr. Sean Buckingham will no longer be allowed to practise medicine, according to the decision handed down Wednesday by a tribunal established by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John's.
The tribunal accepted a joint submission from Buckingham's lawyer and the college's lawyer that recommended his name be permanently struck from the medical register — effectively barring him from ever practising in North America. Buckingham was also fined $9,500.
In a letter to the tribunal, Buckingham said he understood that his actions were wrong. His lawyer, Barry Learmonth, read a statement from the doctor at the hearing
"I agree to the revocation of my right to practise medicine as a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador. I do this with a heavy heart, for as you know, I believe that I was a dedicated and capable physician who was able to make, what I genuinely believe to be, a contribution to the health and welfare of many patients," wrote Buckingham.
"I greatly regret the harm which my misconduct caused and any adverse consequence to the reputation of physicians in the province of Newfoundland. I accept responsibility for my actions and am encouraged by my current state of stability and emotional good health. "
The hearings began on April 29, 2009, and resumed on Oct. 28, 2009, but were postponed both times because Buckingham's lawyers asked for time to review issues related to a possible appeal of his convictions on criminal charges.
Learmonth said the sanctions Buckingham received Wednesday were inevitable.
"If there had been a credible argument to suggest a lesser penalty should be imposed then I would have made it," he said.
Buckingham was convicted of a total of 12 drug trafficking and sexual assault charges in December 2007. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in January 2008. He voluntarily surrendered his licence to practise in 2005 after he was arrested.
The criminal convictions were the basis for complaints to the college.
Learmonth said Buckingham is sorry about the harm he has caused.
"He conveyed his regrets for his actions," he said. "He does feel badly for what has happened."
Buckingham said in his statement that medication for bipolar disorder has improved his health. He is now in a minimum security facility and is eligible for full parole on May 12, 2010.