A former high-ranking St John Ambulance officer found guilty of sexually pursuing teenage cadets could be free to return to work as a nurse in less than seven years.
- Daniel Symons was convicted over offences committed against two female cadets
- He was banned from providing services to adults for eight years, backdated to April 2019
- The 32-year-old will also need to regain registration before he can return to work as a nurse
Daniel Patrick Symons says he would be an “excellent, well-qualified” nurse, but South Australia’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal found he had not accepted his guilt and did not understand the qualities required for the job.
Symons, 32, was in 2017 convicted of nine charges relating to offences committed against two female cadets, aged 16 and 17 at the time, dating back to 2012.
The charges included unlawful sexual intercourse while in a post of authority, inducing someone under 18 to expose their body, and communicating with a person under 17 with intent to engage in sexual activity.
The usual age of consent in South Australia is 17, but when one of the parties is in a “position of authority” — as Symons was found to be — the age of consent increases to 18.
Symons held the rank of state staff officer at the St John Ambulance head office at the time of the offences, and had sex with one of the girls at an ambulance call centre.
District Court judge Stephen McEwen handed him a two-year suspended sentence in November 2017.
The Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed Symons’s appeal in mid-2018 and, early last year, the matter was referred to the tribunal.
In submissions, Symons said he “lost everything” during the prosecution and he “wished to get on with his life”.
He added that “but for the offending [he would have] provided the South Australian Health system with an excellent, well-qualified nurse”.
Conduct ‘a gross breach of trust’
But the tribunal was not convinced, and said Symons had shown he did not understand the qualities required to be a nurse.
“A nurse must demonstrate qualities of character, demonstrated through conduct, as well as technical ability,” the judgement said.
“[His conduct] constituted a gross breach of trust and it occurred over a period of time during which the respondent had ample opportunity to consider the nature and effect of his conduct.”
The tribunal also found Symons failed to notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency of the charges and the convictions, and made misleading statements to the agency.
Symons, who has not worked as a nurse since November 2014, was “reprimanded in the strongest terms” and permanently banned from providing any health service to children.
He was also banned from providing health services to adults for a period of eight years, backdated to April 2019, and will be required to regain registration as a health practitioner before he can return to work.
At that time, the registering authority may decide to impose further conditions on Symons or continue the prohibition order.