Sunday 22 September 2019

Baby 'lucky to be alive' after home circumcision, court hears

Refused bail: Philip Ogbewe, from Drogheda, Co Louth, has been charged with assault causing harm
Refused bail: Philip Ogbewe, from Drogheda, Co Louth, has been charged with assault causing harm
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A father of six has been accused of carrying out a "crude" circumcision on a 10-month-old baby boy who had to be hospitalised and was "lucky to be alive".

Philip Ogbewe (54), calling himself "Dr Philip" but without any medical training, injured the infant while performing a home circumcision with a surgical blade, it is alleged.

He was refused bail at Dublin District Court after gardaí objected.

Mr Ogbewe (54), a Nigerian national of Greenlanes, Drogheda, Co Louth, is charged with assault causing harm to the infant at an address in the midlands on a date in December 2015.

Garda Sergeant Paul Carney told Judge John Coughlan that, when charged, Mr Ogbewe replied: "I am sorry I committed such an offence."

Objecting to bail, Sgt Carney said it was alleged the accused performed the circumcision at the child's home.

The infant required surgical intervention at Mullingar and Crumlin hospitals, to correct the bleed and receive a blood transfusion.

Surgical blades, Vaseline and cotton wool were found in his possession and seized, along with a mobile phone that had the number used by the alleged victim's mother to communicate with the accused before and after the circumcision, Sgt Carney claimed.

Mr Ogbewe had been living in Ireland for 20 years and had three children with his current partner and another three with his ex-wife, his defence barrister Niall Flynn said, applying for bail.

Gardaí had no evidence that he would flee if granted bail, Mr Flynn said, adding that the accused was presumed innocent.

"The child in question is very lucky to be alive due to intervention at Mullingar Hospital," Sgt Carney said.

Mr Flynn said if granted bail Mr Ogbewe would undertake not to perform any circumcisions or contact any witnesses.

Mr Ogbewe had co-operated with the gardaí, Mr Flynn said.

Sgt Carney agreed there was never any manhunt or search to source the accused's location.

Mr Flynn accepted it was a "very sinister alleged offence" and the court would be concerned by the evidence but the accused was in the country 20 years and was prepared to abide by strict bail conditions.

Judge Coughlan refused bail and, granting legal aid, said it was a "unique, very unusual case and a very serious case".

The court heard the offence carried a maximum potential sentence of five years on conviction and the DPP was considering further serious charges.

The accused has not yet indicated a plea.

Irish Independent

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