Monday 23 September 2019

Retired surgeon Michael Shine acquitted of indecently assaulting young male patients

Retired surgeon Dr Michael Shine (85) at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic Collins Courts.
Retired surgeon Dr Michael Shine (85) at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic Collins Courts.

Declan Brennan

A jury has acquitted retired surgeon Michael Shine of indecently assaulting three young male patients over 40 years ago.

Mr Shine (85) of Wellington Rd. in Dublin had pleaded not (NOT) guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to seven charges of indecently assaulting five patients at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and at his private clinic, both in Drogheda, Co Louth, on dates between 1964 and 1991.

Shortly before 4pm the jury of four men and eight women told Judge Cormac Quinn it had reached majority verdicts on some of the counts.

The jury found Mr Shine not (NOT) guilty of four charges which cover alleged offences against three teenagers on dates in 1964, 1970 and and 1976. Mr Shine has denied ever seeing these patients and there were no medicals records to confirm that he had seen them on the dates of the alleged assaults.

Judge Quinn previously warned jurors that if they had a reasonable doubt in relation to records missing due to the delay in bringing the complaints, they must give the benefit of the doubt to accused.

The five complainants were all teenage boys at the time they allege Mr Shine touched them in their genital areas while treating them for injuries such as cuts to a knee, an injury to a finger and an injured toe.

The outstanding three counts cover alleged assaults on two teenage patients on dates between 1974 and 1976. Mr Shine admits attending to these patients but denies that anything inappropriate was done during his medical examinations.

The jury began deliberating yesterday/Tuesday afternoon. Having deliberated for just over five hours Judge Quinn sent the jury home for the night to resume deliberations tomorrow/this (THURS) morning.

In his charge to the jury on Tuesday, Judge Quinn said that corroboration evidence – credible independent evidence of the alleged acts which implicate the accused in those acts – does not exist in relation to any of the complainants.

He warned the jurors: “It is dangerous to convict on the uncorroborated evidence of any of the complainants” but added that they are nevertheless entitled to find the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt once they have taken this warning into account.

“You have to exercise special care on whether you believe each complainant. You have to exercise caution before acting on unsupported evidence,” he said.

The defence position is that the complainants are not independent, may be colluding and are motivated by civil actions.

In his charge Judge Quinn told the jury that this was “quite an old case” and that the detail that would exist for a more recent complaint was unavailable in cases of historic complaints.

He said if the complaints had been made earlier the accused could possibly have called on witnesses such as other medical staff and could have checked records or his diary.

He said these prospects had diminished or disappeared and the prosecution were not entitled to take any advantage from the delay in the case.

“If you have a reasonable doubt in relation to records missing due to the delay, you must give the benefit of the doubt to accused,” he told the jury.

He said in cases with such a delay there was a “special need to exercise caution if you’re minded to convict” because it is “much more difficult for a person to defend themselves against an old complaint”.

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