Wednesday 22 May 2019

Retired doctor loses his appeal against abuse conviction

Man (86) assaulted two teenage boys in the mid-70s in the north-east

A retired doctor has lost an appeal against his conviction 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. The maximum sentence for the offence at the time was two years.

The court heard that both victims were aged 15 when the doctor groped them during medical examinations.

One victim attended with an ingrowing toenail. He told the trial that the doctor tied him to a bed with rubber bungee restraints and a blanket and then slipped his hand under the blanket and started massaging his testicles

He said he knew it was "weird" but he thought "who was I" to speak out because he was "just a young boy"

The second victim testified that during two follow-up examinations for undescended testes, the doctor massaged the base of his penis. On the second occasion, the victim forced himself to ejaculate because he was afraid the attack would escalate and wanted it to end.

The Court of Appeal upheld his conviction last week.

Giving judgment, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said court was satisfied that the trial judge's ruling and directions to the jury were correct, save for one matter.

She said the trial judge erred in directing the jury to disregard the evidence of one complainant, in respect of whom there was a direction to acquit. The defence had sought to rely on evidence in respect of this complainant to show "there were mistakes in his evidence, that may have become apparent to the jury".

The man's lawyers said this particular complainant's evidence was "instructive" of the difficulties in the case.

They said the trial judge effectively told the jury to ignore whatever dangers became apparent in his evidence, when he should have done the opposite.

Ms Justice Kennedy said the trial judge erred in this regard but in the context of the case, it "can't be said to be significant".

All other grounds of appeal were dismissed.

Ms Justice Kennedy, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Michael Peart, said the court would uphold the conviction notwithstanding the error. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

Drogheda Independent