Higham death smash dentist appears before General Dental Council

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A dentist who caused the death of a Higham dog walker after sending a text message while driving will not be thrown out of the profession.

Kay Nolan (46) hit 60-year-old Stuart Mather with her car just moments after sending the message.

The father-of-two was thrown into the road and killed when another car ploughed into him along the Padiham bypass.

Nolan pleaded guilty to causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, at Preston Crown Court last year but was spared jail. But she was hauled before the Professional Conduct Committee of the General Dental Council where she has been reprimanded over the conviction.

The committee heard how Nolan was driving along Barrowford Road, Higham, when she collided with Mr Mather who was out walking his dog, Hamish, on June 6th, 2011

She had composed a text message in a lay-by but then pressed the “send” button on her phone moments before the incident.

The victim was clipped by her wing mirror and was hit by the car following Nolan’s vehicle.

She provided CPR to the victim but he died from his injuries.

During police investigations it was found she had deleted two text messages, one of which was sent just before the fatal incident.

The hearing was told Nolan, of Merlinwood, Thornton in Craven, Skipton, had co-operated with the investigation and later pleaded guilty to the offence. She was given a 40-week sentence suspended for 12-months, 150 hours of unpaid work, a six-month curfew, a victim awareness module, £1,500 costs and a 12-month driving ban by Preston Crown Court.

Mr Harries, legal counsel for the GDC, said: “This was a tragic case and you were clearly a competent and highly regarded clinician.”

However, he said the consequences were grave and in breaching the law by using a mobile phone while driving. He added: “This was a criminal act that led to tragic consequences.”

Ms Horlick, for Nolan, said her fitness to practise was not currently impaired. She said no patients have left Nolan’s practice since the incident and staff had also pledged their support.

She added that Nolan’s conduct before and after the incident demonstrated her “exemplary” personal and professional conduct.

The report from the committee said: “It was apparent from your evidence you are passionate about your work as a dentist and in particular your patients. All the evidence in this case indicates you are a dedicated and competent clinician.”

The committee said it was a “single isolated lapse of judgement” and accepted Nolan did not present a danger to patients. She was reprimanded.