September 2020

Hospital worker met paedophile hunter posing as underage girl at Bath Spa railway station-

A Bristol hospital worker, who was caught by a paedophile hunter after allegedly arranging to meet someone he believed to be 14 for sex, has lost his job.

A Health and Care Professionals Tribunal Service panel found Joshua L Foster sent sexually explicit messages to a man posing as a girl before arranging to meet “her” at Bath Spa railway station in 2017.

He was charged by the police but the trial at Bristol Crown Court in 2018 collapsed after the judge misdirected the jury.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with a retrial and a verdict of not guilty was entered by a judge.

Foster, who worked as an operating department practitioner at the North Bristol Trust, has been now struck off by the Health and Care Professionals Tribunal Service.

The tribunal panel heard that Foster responded to a Craigslist advert posted by a freelance journalist and “self-appointed paedophile hunter”, claiming to be Lou, a 14-year-old virgin seeking to meet someone and possibly have sex with them.

The tribunal heard he travelled from Bristol to Bath to meet “her” on August 6, 2017, where he was confronted by the paedophile hunter and detained until the police arrived.

Foster was charged with an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 but ultimately a not guilty verdict was entered.

The Health and Care Professions Council then looked at the evidence.

It heard that the paedophile hunter had posted an advert saying “Parents away, free house until Thursday”. He had written: “my parents have gone away so I got a free house and wanna chat and maybe meet someone. I’m a virgin but not sure if I wanna lose it or not haha. Message me for my number or my Kik.”

The HCPC saw sexually explicit messages from Foster to “Lou” and one saying: “And I can’t stress that enough if something were to happen I could end up in jail you understand that right? I’m putting a lot of trust in you”.

The tribunal panel found that, on the balance of probabilities – a lower bar than the criminal requirement of beyond reasonable doubt – Foster sent sexually explicit messages to the “Lou”, and arranged to meet “her” in Bath planning to have sex.

The tribunal heard he showed up with a bag of condoms and “arousal gel”.

In written representations, Foster claimed he had gone there to tell the person that he did not intend to have sex with her and to “let her down gently”. The panel rejected that explanation.

Foster said it was an isolated incident, he had sought a counsellor and psychotherapist and was “extremely embarrassed for the situation I find myself in”.

The panel said he had shown a lack of insight into his actions and was not convinced that he believed “Lou” was older than 16.

It “found that there remains a significant risk of repetition and with it the risk that the registrant will bring the profession into disrepute in the future.

“Public confidence in the profession would be significantly undermined if the registrant were allowed to remain upon the register, because that course would give the impression to the public that the profession did not take sufficiently seriously an attempt to commit a serious sexual offence against a child.

“The panel recognises that a striking-off order will inevitably have a serious effect upon the registrant. Nevertheless, the panel is satisfied that no other course is consistent with its duty to protect the public and the wider public interest.”