13 Aug 2022

Doctor who abused seven boys withdraws sentence appeal

Doctor who abused seven boys withdraws sentence appeal

A retired doctor who abused seven boys in his care over a period of 21 years has abandoned his challenge against the severity of his four-year sentence.

Lawyers for the 86-year-old, who can't be named due to a court order, told the Court of Appeal on Tuesday that they were not pursuing the sentence appeal and a notice of abandonment has been filed. They did not give a reason for the withdrawal. 

The doctor was jailed in 2019 following a trial at the Circuit Criminal Court. He had pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault and one charge of sexual assault committed during medical examinations on dates beginning in 1971. A medical expert gave evidence during his trial that there was no medical basis for the behaviour described by the seven men.

The doctor was found guilty on all counts and Judge Martin Nolan sentenced him to four years on one count of indecent assault and 18 months on all other counts. All sentences are concurrent. 

In November last year the doctor lost an appeal against his conviction. His lawyers had argued that the trial judge had erred in telling the jury that if there was no collusion, then the fact there were seven complainants was "compelling" evidence.

Rejecting all grounds, the Court of Appeal said there was "no substance" to the complaint. Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, delivering judgement on behalf of the court, said that when read in context, the judge was telling the jury that if the complainants had made their statements independently, without colluding with one another, that would make the number of complaints compelling. She added: "We see nothing wrong in his having said that."

In total the court rejected 17 grounds of appeal including a suggestion that the trial judge should have ended the trial when witnesses gave evidence that the accused had been struck off the medical register, that a civil action had been settled and that there had been an earlier criminal trial. Hugh Hartnett SC for the doctor said this evidence had prejudiced his client and that the effect was magnified when there are multiple complainants.

Ms Justice Kennedy disagreed, saying that withdrawing a trial from a jury is a last resort and the evidence heard did not justify a discharge of the jury.

Following the trial and conviction Judge Nolan described the offending as a "serious pattern of misbehaviour" and said that the appropriate headline sentence without mitigation was one of seven years. He reduced the sentence to four years after considering mitigating factors including his age and that there was a possibility of him dying while in prison.

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