A medical tribunal has refused to strike off a paramedic who drank 10 pints before getting behind the wheel of a car, using his phone and veering onto the wrong side of the road, hitting and killing a father-of-five cycling home.
Robert Woodruff was jailed last year for five years after admitting to causing the death of Richard Goodwin by dangerous driving, but may be able to continue his career as a medic following his prison sentence, the Daily Mail reports, after a Health and Care Professions Tribunal panel suspended his licence for 12 months, choosing not to strike him off.
The panel concluded it is not its role to "punish" and said pre-incident Woodruff had "dedicated his life to saving lives and not to wrecking them". The jailed paramedic, who was also banned from driving for seven years and eight months at last year's sentencing, told the HCPTS disciplinary hearing he was "not providing a defence to anything he had done" and is "passionate about helping and caring for the public".
The tribunal report said: "There is no doubting the seriousness of the conviction in this case. However, as referred to above, it is not this panel's role to punish Woodruff for a second time, but rather to ensure public confidence is maintained in the paramedic profession and [its regulator].
"It is clear that his appalling behaviour must be marked so as to send out a message to him, the profession and the public about how seriously the panel views this conduct. However, in light of the specific circumstances of this case and the mitigation provided, the panel did not consider his conduct to be fundamentally incompatible with continued registration.
"He had demonstrated significant insight and was clearly willing, and had taken active steps to, resolve matters. Although it would be some time before he had completed his prison sentence, and thus be in a position to resume his practice, the panel did not consider it necessary to remove him from the Register."
Woodruff, 36, had drunk ten pints of Guinness earlier on 26 June 2021 when he took the keys to his father's car and began the seven-mile drive to a female colleague's barbecue, repeatedly calling the woman as he drove.
The Hull Daily Mail reported from court how it was heard that Woodruff was again on the phone when he veered into the wrong lane and hit Mr Goodwin, carrying the cyclist 70 metres down the road and causing fatal injuries. The father-of-five, himself cycling home from a barbecue, was found dead in undergrowth by the roadside.
Ahead of the collision, witnesses reported seeing the drunk driver "bearing down" on them and being so close behind one driver that they could not read his registration plate. Compared to the speeds of the witness it was estimated Woodruff travelled at up to 80 mph, another driver who witnessed his actions in the moments before the fatal crash thinking, 'what an idiot'.
At court, Mr Goodwin's family reported finding the driver "smug" and local court reporter Mark Naylor said Woodruff "portrayed a pathetic figure. Unemotional throughout, he showed little interest in the proceedings".
The court also heard emotional accounts from Mr Goodwin's family, 19-year-old son Oliver saying "these past months have been the hardest months I have ever had to experience" and "it has affected me in so many different ways".
"I lie awake thinking of what it must have been like for my Dad. I have dreams that he is still alive. I still send him text messages, knowing that he will never reply," he told the court.
Back to the present and this week's medical tribunal, the panel report continued: "He [Woodruff] said he believed in rehabilitation and allowing people another chance and that he had support from family, friends and the local community, who are keen for him to keep his registration as a paramedic.
"He said that his references show that he is an excellent paramedic, as was supported by the judge's sentencing remarks. He referred to his [barrister's] comment about how he has 'dedicated his life to saving lives and not wrecking them'.
"He said the criminal charge was not a true reflection of who he is as a person and as a professional. The offence of causing death by dangerous driving is very serious. The outcome all too painfully obvious."
It is not known if Woodruff wishes to continue his medical career after the completion of his jail sentence.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.