Home UK News Paramedic Cornish ‘made racially offensive jokes and anonymous threats to colleagues’

Paramedic Cornish ‘made racially offensive jokes and anonymous threats to colleagues’

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Darren Cornish

Paramedic Darren Cornish, of Kilkhampton and formerly of The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), was subject to a misconduct hearing by the Health & Care Professions Tribunal Service, after a pattern of deplorable behaviour.

In a misconduct hearing spanning 02/05/23 – 05/05/23, the tribunal heard that Darren Cornish was in an online chat where an image of Kermit the Frog with black skin and afro hair, labelled ‘Kermit the Wog’ was shared in a racially offensive manner.

Cornish then showed this to a colleague, making humour of it and sharing that he enjoys group chats of this nature and shares such images himself. However, the colleague was shocked and against such racist humour, and he reported the matter to a Police Inspector who liaised with the department.

Cornish worked in the custody suite providing healthcare services to persons in custody.

In his role, Cornish tended to the medical needs of detained individuals and assisted in the collection of evidence when necessary. Cornish and the coworker worked together two to four days per week. Their relationship was strictly professional, and they only knew one another through their jobs.

Darren Cornish at work

His colleague remarked that he was stunned by the image and baffled as to why Cornish would reveal it to him. According to the colleague, he told Cornish, “I’d delete that immediately. They should chuck it in. Unfollow. Defriend”. He suggested that he eliminate the image and communicate to the sender that it was offensive and inappropriate.

His colleague stated that he was appalled by the image that Cornish had shown him, so thirty minutes later he went to Cornish’s office and asked who had sent him the image. According to the colleague, Cornish stated that the image was sent to him by a friend who worked at a London ambulance station.

The colleague responded by saying “If you think that is acceptable you shouldn’t be working for the police”.

The colleague told the Panel that in his twenty years as a police officer, he had never seen anything comparable to this image, and that he was in a state of disbelief for several days afterward.

Darren Cornish picture

Cornish expressed regret to the the panel. Since then, he says has completed an online course on ethnic awareness. The course helped him gain insight and comprehension into how his actions affect others, particularly those in minority groups, of different ethnicity, religion, or creed. He acknowledged that disseminating such content is inappropriate and unprofessional.

Cornish stated that, upon reflection, he had a momentary lapse in concentration that permitted a series of events to occur on the day in question. He stated that his actions did not comport with the standards of his profession and his personal integrity.

He stated that he had apologised to his coworker for any distress he had caused. Even though he disapproves of the image and has strong feelings against it, Cornish acknowledged that revealing it to anyone could give the impression that he approves of racist content. He stated that while he cannot control what is sent to him, he can control his subsequent actions.

Anonymous phone calls

At the time the allegation was under investigation, Cornish was under investigation for making threatening, anonymous phone calls to a colleague accusing them of being a cocaine user. The colleague later committed suicide.

Darren Cornish was arrested for malicious communication, after it was alleged he made phone calls to a colleague from a withheld number, while attempting to obscure his voice, and accused the person of being a “coke head”, that they “are going to get tested”, and needs to “get [him] some cocaine”, in a threatening and accusatory tone.

The victim told another person (a witness), and in an effort to unmask his abuser he downloaded a ‘show me the number’ application onto his phone. He then got another call and the application did not work. He informed the witness and later that evening they went out together.

The witnessed described the victim as being preoccupied with the calls and troubled by them. During the evening the victim’s mood deteriorated and he kept trying to discover ‘what was going on’ and declaring that he is ‘not afraid’.

This witness stayed the night and left the following morning at 6:30am.

Later this day, police found the victim’s lifeless body, and it was ruled a suicide.

The witness was able to connect the anonymous calls to Cornish after contacting the ‘show me the number’ application, and linked it to his social media profiles. She then contacted the police.

Cornish was interrogated voluntarily under caution regarding alleged malicious communications. He confessed to making the anonymous calls and claimed it was to stop the victim taking drugs, and the police took No Further Action (NFA).

The panel rejected it was an altruistic endeavour designed to help the victim, and instead an inappropriate way to draw attention ‘mismanagement’ of the Trust (SWAFST).

On both counts, Cornish was handed a Caution Order that will last for 5 years. The panel made it clear that his conduct could have led to a suspension, but opted against it because a suspension is ordinarily reserved for misconduct that places patients and the public at heightened risk, and because they deemed repetition unlikely.

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