Saturday 17 August 2019

Retired doctor (86) loses appeal over abuse sentence

A retired doctor has lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence for abusing two teenage boys in the mid-70s.

The 86-year-old man, who cannot be identified by order of the Court of Appeal, had pleaded not guilty to eight charges of indecently assaulting six patients at in the north east of the country, on dates between 1964 and 1991.

He was found guilty by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of indecently assaulting two 15-year-old patients. The trial judge directed a not guilty verdict in respect of one complainant and the jury acquitted him on the remaining counts.

He was given two consecutive 10 month sentences by Judge Cormac Quinn totalling 20 months imprisonment, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal last week. The maximum sentence for the offence at the time was two years.

Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the offences involved a significant "betrayal of trust" given the man's position as a doctor entrusted with the boys' care.

She said he abused that trust and as well as the victims, who were two young, vulnerable boys.

Ms Justice Kennedy said the Court of Appeal was satisfied that the sentencing judge correctly placed the offences in the upper end of the range for seriousness.

She said the acts, while not of the most egregious nature, were deliberate and committed within the context of a medical exam.

Ms Justice Kennedy said the court did not see "any merit" in the argument that the sentences should have been concurrent. If the sentences were made concurrent, the punishment in respect of the boys would have "merged" with each other, which wouldn't have been "appropriate".

She said the man was certainly elderly and in poor health but that did not prevent him from being required to serve a custodial sentence.

Ms Justice Kennedy, who sat with Mr Justice Michael Peart and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court could find no error in principal and the appeal was therefore dismissed.

Drogheda Independent