This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only

‘Abhorrent actions’: Pharmacist struck off after conviction for indecent images of children

Profession news

‘Abhorrent actions’: Pharmacist struck off after conviction for indecent images of children

Russell Buglass was convicted at Newcastle Upon Tyne Court in August 2023

A Whitley Bay pharmacist convicted of possessing thousands of indecent images of children has been struck off the General Pharmaceutical Council’s register after a recent hearing concerning his “abhorrent” actions.

Russell Buglass was jailed for two years in August 2023 by Newcastle Crown Court on five counts relating to child pornography and a sixth count concerning the possession of “extreme pornographic image/images” involving an animal, the GPhC’s fitness to practise committee noted in a remote hearing that took place in his absence on May 9. 

Mr Buglass, who is currently in prison, told the GPhC he did not plan to attend the hearing and said he was “more than happy to be removed from the register”. A LinkedIn profile belonging to a Russell Buglass describes him as both a self-employed pharmacist and a pharmacist manager working with a chain organisation. 

Police raided Mr Buglass’s address in January 2022, seizing devices including a mobile phone, a laptop, a hard drive and disk drives and identifying a “very large number of indecent images of children” spanning “all official categories,” including 910 images and 115 videos of “extreme pornography” and 311 pictures and 12 videos in the “most serious” category of indecent images. 

The images and videos – of which there were over 45,000 – had time stamps ranging from March 5 2009 to January 2 2022. In addition to the images he collected, there were a number of photographs he had taken himself of a young girl playing on a beach, the BBC reported last year.

In addition to the 24-month custodial sentence, upon his release Mr Buglass must register with the police as a sex offender dating from May 16 2023 for 10 years. A sexual harm prevention order was also imposed for 10 years.

Considering the case, the FtP committee said that the “very low penalty” imposed by the court did not detract from the seriousness of Mr Buglass’s offences or the risk he continues to pose to patients and the public. 

“The committee concluded that there is a real risk of repetition, taking into account the number of images involved over the course of 13 years,” it said. 

The committee also found that Mr Buglass’s level of insight was “limited,” noting: “Whilst there is some recognition of the impact of his actions upon others, the registrant appears to be more concerned about the impact the criminal proceedings and these proceedings had upon him.” 

The case has “clear implications” for the public interest and confidence in the profession, said the FtP Committee, adding that other practitioners “would consider that the registrant’s actions were abhorrent”.

Finding that his actions are “fundamentally incompatible with registration as a pharmacist,” the committee directed the GPhC registrar to remove his name from the register.

As Mr Buglass is expected to be released from prison by August 21 this year at the latest, having served half the sentence imposed, the FtP committee imposed an interim suspension barring him from working as a pharmacist during the 28-day appeal period.

Copy Link copy link button

Profession news