Monday 15 October 2018

Shine guilty of indecent assault on two males

Former Drogheda-based surgeon Michael Shine will return to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on December 1 to be sentenced after being found guilty of indecently assaulting two young male patients in the mid-70s.

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

On Wednesday last, the jury of four men and eight women acquitted him of a number of these charges.

Just before midday on Thursday, having deliberated for just over six hours, the jury returned majority guilty verdicts on the outstanding counts.

These charges alleged that Shine assaulted two teenage patients on dates between 1974 and 1976. Shine admitted attending to these patients but denied that anything inappropriate was done during his medical examinations.

One victim was aged around 15 or 16 in 1976 when he attended at the hospital with an in-growing toenail. He told the trial that Dr Shine strapped him down on 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 what was happening was weird but didn't know if he could speak out because he was "just a young boy".

The second victim testified that during two follow up examinations for undescended testes at Shine's private clinic in Drogheda, Shine massaged the base of his penis. The victim, who was in his mid teens at the time, told the trial that he told himself for years that there was nothing improper about what the doctor did.

The six complainants were all teenage boys at the time they allege Dr 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.

On Wednesday the jury found Shine not guilty of four charges which cover alleged offences against three teenagers on dates in 1964, 1970 and and 1976. 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.

The judge had told the jury that it would be dangerous to convict on the 'uncorroborated evidence' of any of the complainants.

In his charge to the jury, Judge Quinn said that the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused attended to the complainants. Mr Shine denies seeing three of them but accepts he treated two of them.

Judge Quinn said the prosecution must also prove that the alleged actions did take place, were not a bonafide or appropriate medical examination and could be considered indecent. He said that the prosecution must finally prove the accused intended to commit the acts.

Judge Quinn told the jury 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.

He told the jury that it could decide there were similarities in the accounts and evidence of the five complainants. He said the defence position is that the complainants are not independent, may be colluding and are motivated by civil actions.

He said there is an inherent improbability of several persons making up exactly similar stories.

He said the jury must take each count separately but that if it finds Mr Shine guilty beyond reasonable doubt on one count, it can consider it more likely that the account of another complainant of a similar incident is true.

In his closing speech Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, said there is no evidence to support the suggestion that the complainants came together in some way to make up the allegations.

Hugh Hartnett SC, defending, told the jurors that the prosecution was asking them to accept that medical records had either gone missing or, where they existed and conflicted with a complainant's allegations, were wrong.

Referring to the campaign allegedly 'directed against' the accused by Bernadette Sullivan, he said that hindsight over 42 years 'in circumstances of a publicity campaign being run...can be a very dangerous thing'.

'You can insert yourself into situations that never occurred,' counsel said.

Judge Quinn told the jury that this was 'quite an old case' and that the detail that would exist for a more recent complaint is 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 have diminished or disappeared and the prosecution are not entitled to take advantage of 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 is 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'.

'If, notwithstanding this warning, you are convinced of the guilt of the accused, you are entitled to convict. The law does not say that old cases cannot be tried, but it says the accused cannot be disadvantaged because of delay'.

Judge Cormac Quinn remanded Shine on continuing bail until December 1 for sentencing.

Drogheda Independent