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Social worker suspended for 'sexually motivated' comments to client

PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 September 2019

East Ham Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

East Ham Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

A social worker who repeatedly called and messaged a vulnerable domestic abuse victim to tell her he was looking for a girlfriend has been suspended from the profession for a year.

John Byekwaso had worked for Newham Council for 20 years before he was sacked for making inappropriate "sexually motivated" comments to one of his clients, the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service heard.

Mr Byekwaso called the young mother "several times" in April 2017 from his personal and work mobile.

He told her his marriage had broken down and asked if she was single. When the woman said she was not, he asked if her neighbour or friends would be interested in pursuing a relationship with him, the tribunal heard.

Mr Byekwaso had been in charge of making sure the woman's young child was safe and ensuring the mother adhered to a child protection plan drawn up by the council.

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Stuart Andrews, the council's service manager at the time, said Mr Byekwaso was the victim's social worker until February 2017, when she moved borough and was allocated a new one.

He said: "[His actions] were wholly inappropriate. She was vulnerable and a victim of domestic abuse. She was in her early twenties. He was significantly older, in his fifties."

He added: "I cannot see how you can have a [romantic] relationship with someone when you are working with them in the way he was."

Mr Byekwaso, who did not attend the hearing, also 
visited his former client's 
home at least once in April without any professional 
cause. He claimed he was looking for a notebook.

Neither his visit or the phone calls were recorded on the social services system, the tribunal heard. The woman complained about Mr Byekwaso to her new social worker and Newham council launched an investigation.

The tribunal panel said: "There was sufficient evidence to infer that the relationship sought by the registrant was intended to culminate in a sexual relationship."

Mr Byekwaso was suspended from practising social work for at least 12 months.

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