A 47-year-old former doctor with the Causeway Way Hospital in Coleraine, who had nearly 3,000 images of child sex abuse, will find out next week whether the jail sentence he receives will be suspended.
The Polish anaesthetist, Piotr Dziurdzik, who expects to be struck off by the General Medical Council, pleaded guilty to 33 offences, committed between 2012 and 2015, including having over 200 images in the most serious category four and five.
Prosecutor Michael Chambers told Antrim Crown Court that when confronted by police Dziurdzik readily admitted: “Yes, true, it happened. If you scroll the internet there’s links all over and if you want something different”.
He 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 a 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 lawyer also told Judge Sandra Crawford that the vast majority of the images were of girls, although there were a number of small boys, and the age range of the children was substantially between eight and 12, “but that there were a smaller number of images of younger children”.
Mr Chambers said in his final interview in November 2015, the doctor, who claimed he was often drunk when viewing images, was “shocked by the age range” of the children being abused, some as young as five or six and was also “taken aback by the number” of images found.
The doctor told police that some images recovered from one laptop may have been saved automatically as he was “viewing other such stuff” and that it was all “blurred and messy”, although he alleged that he was not “actively seeking out these images, but one website led to another when he clicked on the images”.
Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said Dziurdzik’s behaviour was both “disgraceful and appalling” 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 cliché, 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 roll ... 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 “enured to it” and went looking for more challenging materials and “ultimately illegal porn”.
Mr Rafferty said that “once he had stepped down that rabbit hole he was lost .... he took a course from which he was unable to step back from”.
The lawyer said his prosecution has had nothing but a “disastrous effect on him” and that there were “no circumstances in which he will be able to practise medicine again and quite rightly expects to be barred from practice”.
Mr Rafferty said while the suspended doctor “has no life left for him here”, and had expressed a desire to return to his family in Poland,: “There will be for sometime, if no forever, a very watchful eye on Mr Dziurdzik”.
Acknowledging that “no doubt this case has passed the custody threshold”, Mr Rafferty argued it was up to the court to decide whether any sentence it deems appropriate, should be suspended or not.
Judge Crawford, said given the obvious seriousness and complexities of the case, she wished to reflect on matters and will pass sentence next week.