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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018
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Man to stand trial over 'crude circumcision' of baby boy who had to be hospitalised

A court was told the boy was lucky to be alive.

File photo of a courtroom
File photo of a courtroom
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A 54-YEAR-OLD man is to stand trial after a 10-month old baby boy was left lucky to be alive from a “crude circumcision” carried out in the midlands three years ago.

Father-of-six Philip Ogbewe is from Nigeria but has been living in Ireland for 20 years and residing at Green Lanes, Drogheda, Co Louth. He allegedly used a surgical blade on the infant who was hospitalised for two weeks.

Ogbewe was refused bail after appearing before Judge John Coughlan at Dublin District Court today. 

He was charged with assault causing harm to the baby boy in a midlands town on a date in December 2015. The infant would have died had it not been for the intervention of medical professionals, the court heard.

Ogbewe has allegedly described himself Dr Philip, a “third generation circumciser” but has no medical training, the court was told.

Garda Sergeant Paul Carney said he arrested him in Drogheda at 4.10pm yesterday and brought him to a garda station in the midlands to be charged.

After he was cautioned, he replied: “I am sorry I committed such an offence.”

Judge Coughlan was furnished with a list of objections to bail drafted by the investigating officer who cited the seriousness of the case.

The judge noted that the case related to a 10-month male infant and it was alleged the defendant performed a “home circumcision” and that was the alleged assault.

Garda Sergeant Carney applied for a remand in custody. He said the infant required surgical intervention at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar and was later transferred to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

The baby needed a blood transfusion and medics had to “correct the bleed”.

Five-year sentence 

The assault charge can carry a maximum sentence of five years but the court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions was considering further, more serious charges.

Carney alleged the accused travelled to the injured party’s home and performed the circumcision with a surgical blade but he had no medical training.

“The child in question is very lucky to be alive,” he said, adding that this was due to the intervention of staff at the hospital in Mullingar.

Also recovered during the investigation was a surgical blade, Vaseline and cotton wool, items which were to be used for performing circumcisions, the court heard.

Ogbewe’s phone, which had the phone number used by the injured party’s mother to contact him before and after the circumcision, was seized. 

Carney said the accused, who sat silently throughout the hearing, was aware of the location of the infant’s home. The sergeant said technical analysis of his phone identified 21 other appointments for circumcisions in Dublin, Meath and Offaly.

Endanger other children 

Carney said the accused identified himself as Dr Philip and gardaí believe that, if bailed, he would endanger the safety of other children by carrying out these practices.

He agreed with defence counsel Niall Flynn that he was not concerned the accused would flee. He was satisfied he lived here since 1998 and has family in this jurisdiction.

Counsel said his client has the presumption of innocence, and has three children with his partner and three with his ex-wife.

The garda said information gleaned from his phone showed there was a number of calls in recent months to “conduct these crude circumcisions with surgical blades”.

He would not accept the proposals by counsel that Ogbewe would obey strict conditions including a curfew, signing on three times a day at a garda station or an order to remain in Drogheda. Counsel said Ogbewe no longer had the phone.

The garda witness said the accused was renowned in the African community. He did not believe Ogbewe needed a mobile phone to communicate with potential clients.

Flynn (instructed by Brid Mimnagh, solicitor) said his client, if let out on bail, would give an undertaking not to carry out any circumcision or contact any witnesses.

However, the sergeant did not believe Ogbewe would adhere to this, and he added that during an interview the accused indicated he was pressurised into performing circumcisions.

The garda agreed that no manhunt was required to source him.

Pleading for bail, Flynn said a very sinister alleged offence had come before the court but he asked the judge to consider bail with the conditions outlined during the hearing. He also asked the judge to note that his client lived with his partner, and his ex-wife was also in the locality.

Judge Coughlan refused bail and remanded him in custody to appear again on 23 November.

Granting legal aid, he said described the case as unique, very unusual and very serious.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings

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Tom Tuite

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