A NURSE who sent topless pictures of herself to a Carstairs patient has been struck off.
Clare Lee wrote “hello big boy” on an image she sent to knife attack schizophrenic Paul Brownlie.
The 32-year-old’s face was not in some of the snaps – but colleagues said they recognised her from a large tattoo on her chest.
A nursing disciplinary panel also heard that Miss Lee chased Brownlie around a ward with a water filled syringe, and bombarded him with “flirty text messages”.
And it emerged that schizophrenic Brownlie referred to Miss Lee as “my bitch” in front of other psychiatric patients.
Miss Lee faced nine charges of misconduct before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), covering December 2009 to January 2010, when she worked at theRoyalEdinburghHospital.
She admitted sending Brownlie text messages, allowing him to access a private cupboard, discussing her medication with him, chasing him with a water-filled syringe and sharing a pizza with him.
Charges that she kissed Brownlie on the lips at a Hogmanay celebration in the clinic and that her conduct was sexually motivated were denied by Miss Lee but found proved by the NMC.
Two further charges were found not proved.
The NMC disciplinary panel said it was of the view that “the facts proved in this particular case demonstrate that Ms Lee’s misconduct is a serious breach of the trust placed in her as a Registered Nurse”.
Allowing her to continue practising “would undermine public confidence and trust in the profession”, they said.
“The Striking-Off Order is necessary in the interests of public safety and protection.”
Brownlie was sent to Carstairs, a maximum-security hospital which holds the country’s most dangerous psychiatric patients, following a drug-fuelled knife attack on a man in East Lothian 13 years ago when he was just 17.
He met Miss Lee after he was transferred to the medium-secure Orchard Clinic at the Royal Edinburgh.
After his relationship with Ms Lee was discovered, and she was sacked, Brownlie absconded.
He was recaptured and returned to Carstairs where he married Ms Lee in July last year.
Miss Lee did not attend the NMC hearing in Edinburgh this week but sent a letter in which she denied her fitness to practise was impaired.
Brownlie was referred to in the proceedings as “Patient A”.
A statement written by a senior charge nurse at the Orchard Clinic, Frank Charleston, described how he had found lewd pictures and text messages on Ms Lee’s work mobile.
In the statement, which was read to the hearing, Mr Charleston said: “Miss Lee gave me her mobile number and I decided to check Patient A’s mobile phone to see if the number was stored.
“The same number was stored under the name “shorty,” which was a nick-name for Miss Lee in the ward. Some of the texts had sexual content.
“There was an image of Miss Lee in her bra and a picture of a naked torso.”
Afraid that Brownlie would delete the lewd images, Mr Charleston asked nursing assistant Callum McConnell to verify the content of the messages.
Mr McConnell said in his statement that he recognised a tattoo on the naked body as Miss Lee’s.
“I saw a tattoo on one side of the torso’s chest. I had seen Miss Lee with that same tattoo before.
“The next photo was her in her bra and it showed her face so I was definite it was her.”
The NMC’s lawyer, Yusuf Segovia, read out the title of the picture showing Lee in a black bra.
He said: “The message read: ‘Hello big boy’ and showed a photo from the chest upwards of Miss Lee with a black bra on.”
Mr Eugene Muskambeva a night shift coordinator in the forensic unit, said he saw the couple holding hands as well as overhearing the patient calling her “his bitch.”
He said in his statement: “I saw Miss Lee and Patient A holding hands at the nursing station. They were listening to her ipod with one set of earphones.”
And on December 31, the nurse also told how he witnessed them kissing.
“When the bell rang at midnight, he kissed Miss Lee on the lips. They were standing very close to each other, standing side by side. She didn’t stop him.”
Earlier in the night, Mr Muskambeva told how he witnessed Miss Lee filling a syringe with water before chasing after Brownlie in the ward.
But when he confronted her about their relationship, Miss Lee told him: “You can’t help who you fall in love with.”
Another witness, Miss Sheila Inkster, nursing assistant in the forensic unit, said she saw Lee and Brownlie “sharing pizza” and coming out of a private cupboard together where patients’ personal belongings were kept.
“I had concerns about Clare Lee’s relationship with Patient A. She spent a significant amount of time with him.
“I was walking past a cupboard when I noticed that the door was ajar. I saw Miss Lee and Patient A walking out of the room together.
“I often saw them sitting close to each other in the quiet room, whispering.”
Miss Inkster described how she saw Brownlie feeling Lee’s leg.
“I saw him place his hand on Miss Lee’s leg and she just laughed. They were sitting on a two seater settee. Quite a few times I saw his hand on Clare’s leg or Clare had her hand on his leg,” she added.
The nursing assistant added that she witnessed the couple sharing a pizza together at the nursing station when Brownlie should have been in bed.
Operations manager of the ward, and leader of an internal investigation, Mrs Elizabeth Gallagher, said that Brownlie told her that “Miss Lee had been texting him with banter and that he had really strong feelings for her and that she had really strong feelings for him.”
Mrs Gallagher said that after she had investigated the allegations Lee admitted that their relationship had developed to an “inappropriate level.”
“She said they felt strongly for each other and acknowledged that she should not have allowed her relationship to develop as it did.”
Miss Lee, who lost her job after her relationship with Brownlie was reported, won a battle with NHS authorities to have her wedding to Brownlie in Carstairs, known formally as The State Hospital.
She was only able to spend a few hours with Brownlie before she had to leave the facility to go for a post-wedding dinner with her friends and bridesmaids.
She said at the time: “I admit that the circumstances weren’t perfect, but we were both getting to do what we had wanted to do for a long, long time, and that’s all that really mattered.
The NMC said in its decision that Ms Lee’s actions are “significant departures from the standards…which are expected of a Registered Nurse”.
They added: “Her actions are fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the register.
“If Ms Lee were allowed to remain on the register the panel is concerned that she would continue to remain a risk to those in her care.
“Public confidence in the profession would be undermined should Ms Lee remain on the register.”