How wanted sex offender worked as nurse in mental health hospital
PUBLISHED: 06:49 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:47 14 November 2019
A convicted sex offender, who is wanted in the United States, worked undetected as a nurse in Norfolk for eight years after lying about his conviction.
Albert Walker, known as Johnny, looked after vulnerable people, including with young mental health patients at the Huntercombe Hospital near Buxton, raising questions about the vetting of staff.
Striking him off the register earlier this year, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said his employment posed a "significant risk of unwarranted harm to patients".
The 65-year old was jailed for six months in California in 2000 for distributing or exhibiting harmful matter to a child and had to register as a sex offender.
However in 2012 police in California said he was wanted for failing to register - a charge Mr Walker denied.
He got a second conviction in the USA in 2001 for failing to stop at the scene of a crash.
Mr Walker then returned to the UK in 2007 and registered with the NMC in 2009 after telling them he had no convictions.
He worked at mental health hospitals through agencies.
One former staff member at the now shut Huntercombe, who worked with him in 2011, said: "I am shocked that he managed to fly under the radar this long. They should do proper checks on staff especially since the people in their care are so vulnerable."
After 2013, Mr Walker worked around Manchester with an agency in Salford called Achieve Care until August 2017.
A spokesman for Achieve Care said: "At the time all relevant checks were done and there no adverse reports regarding him."
Mr Walker was struck off by the NMC panel in February this year after a whistleblower came forward.
The panel said: "Mr Walker had offered no insight, remorse or remediation in respect of his conduct."
But they did not explain why he was able to work undetected for so long.
A spokesman for the Huntercombe Group said they had no record of him being employed by them but added: "If the individual was contracted by an agency at some point in the past to work for us then we are extremely disappointed that both the agency in question and the NMC's due diligence procedures so clearly failed."
A spokesman for the NMC said: "It's the responsibility of the employer to carry out appropriate background checks. We ask registrants to disclose convictions when they register or revalidate with us.
"If they don't disclose them and we receive a referral indicating they have convictions, we'll investigate."
Mr Walker denied the NMC's allegation that he had failed to register as a sex offender in California and the panel said that charge was not proven.
The NMC saw the Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal records sheet for Mr Walker which suggested that he had in fact registered as a sex offender.
However Detective Peter Ressler from Fresno police said this week that Mr Walker was still wanted for failing to register.
"The warrant does not authorize extradition," he added.