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Retired surgeon Michael Shine sentenced to four years in jail for sexual abuse of patients

One victim called it a “good day for me and for all victims of abuse”.

Retired surgeon Michael Shine at the Central Criminal Courts.
Retired surgeon Michael Shine at the Central Criminal Courts.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

A RETIRED SURGEON who groped seven boys in his care over a period of three decades has been jailed for four years. 

Michael Shine (86) of Ballsbridge, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 12 charges of indecent assault and one charge of sexual assault committed during medical examinations at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, and at two private clinics in Drogheda on dates between 1971 to 1992. 

On day 17 of the trial, a jury of two women and eight men returned guilty verdicts, having deliberated for after just over six hours. 

Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Shine to four years imprisonment for one count of indecent assault. He sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment for all other counts and ordered that each sentence run concurrently. 

Judge Nolan said that the appropriate headline sentence in the absence of mitigation was one of seven years imprisonment. He described the offending as a “serious pattern of misbehaviour”. 

At an earlier sentence hearing, Detective Garda Seamus Nolan told Cathleen Noctor SC, prosecuting, that Shine indecently assaulted six boys aged between 11 and 15 on dates ranging from 1971 to 1988. He said the sole count of sexual assault related to an incident in 1992 when the injured party was aged 16. 

Det Gda Nolan said that during the trial a medical expert gave evidence that there was no medical basis for the behaviour described by the seven men. 

Shine has three previous convictions for indecent assault relating to two complainants who were both aged 15 in 1975 and he was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment in late 2017. These convictions are currently under appeal.

 

Victims

Speaking outside the court after Shine was sentenced, Patrick Cusack (56), one of the injured parties in the case who has waived his right to anonymity, said it was a “good day for me and for all victims of abuse, but particularly the victims of abuse of Michael Shine”. 

Cusack encouraged others who have been the victims of abuse to come forward and seek help. He said he was “delighted” with the sentence and that it was “most appropriate”, but said that the conviction had been more important. 

“He (Shine) will never say sorry. Paedophiles don’t say sorry, it’s their chemical make-up,” Cusack said. He went on to say he expects that Shine will never acknowledge himself or any of his victims. 

He will self gratify in his abuse, but that’s as far as it goes. You are just a toy in his world. 

Judge Nolan said the aggravating factors in the case were the number of assaults and that as a doctor Shine was in a position of trust. Further aggravating factors were that the victims were at the time “vulnerable” boys, that there was no expression of remorse and that Shine has previous convictions for offences of this type. 

He said the mitigating factors were Shine’s age, his health challenges, his good work record, his being held in high regard by his family and that there was a possibility of him dying while imprisoned. 

Judge Nolan said it had been well decided by precedent that age is no barrier to prison sentences.

Complaints

At the previous hearing, the court heard that the first complainant told the court that Shine groped his genitals during two appointments in 1988 following surgery on his finger when he was aged 15. He said that during the first examination Shine rested his head on his chest and that his breathing became more intense. 

Another man said that Shine prevented his father from being present for an examination following surgery on his testicles in 1985 when he was aged 13. He said that Shine placed his hand on his penis during the exam and began to move his foreskin up and down. 

A third witness attended hospital due to tearing his foreskin during sexual intercourse when he was aged 16 in 1992. 

The man said that during an examination on his injury, Shine began to masturbate his penis up and down for five to ten minutes, ending with him squeezing its top. 

The fourth complainant in the case said that he was hit by a car during the summer of 1972 when he was aged 14 and that he required surgery on his right knee. He said that Shine would come to his room in the evening to play chess with him during his stay in hospital. 

The man said that during a follow-up appointment Shine began “playing with” and “fondling” his genitals and stroking his penis, telling him that “you could tell a lot this way”. He said he did not think that Shine ever examined his knee. 

A fifth man said that Shine inserted a gloved finger into his anus and his other hand began “palpating” his genitals during an examination in 1974 when he was aged around 11. He said that afterwards Shine patted him on the head and told him he was a “good boy”. 

The man said that during a later stay in hospital Shine would examine his wound from surgery and that every time he did so he would go on to “palpate” his penis and scrotum. He said that Shine did this every day up until the day he was discharged from hospital. 

A sixth man said that Shine performed surgery on his appendix at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in 1971 when he was aged 13. He said that during a follow-up examination Shine began fondling his testicles and stroking his penis, saying that he needed to check that nothing was damaged. 

The final complainant in the case said that Shine placed a paper towel on his stomach before he took his penis in his hand and began to masturbate it during an examination in 1975 when he was aged 13. He said that this continued for around 10 to 15 minutes. 

Shine denied doing anything improper during examinations with any of the complainants and said he has “no memory whatsoever” of ever treating any of them. He also said that he never played chess. 

In a victim impact statement which was read out in court, Patrick Cusack said that Shine handed him “a life sentence of pain, hurt, anguish and shame”. 

Cusack said he had not had a proper night’s sleep in 45 years until the guilty verdict was announced two weeks ago. He said that having received the justice he has wanted since 1974 he can now truly say that what happened was not his fault. 

A second man who read from his victim impact statement said that Shine has no understanding of what he has done and says that he does not trust many people as a result of the abuse he suffered. 

“I am aware that under a facade, people can have evil motives. He (Shine) taught me that,” the man said. 

Hugh Hartnett SC, defending, said his client was attacked on the steps of the court house and liquid was thrown at him. He said that Shine’s “health is precarious” and that a prison sentence would have a profound impact on a man of his age. 

Hartnett said that Shine faces the prospect of dying in prison without the comfort of his friends and family. He asked the judge to consider not imposing a custodial sentence and asked that he take into account that the cases occurred a long time ago.

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Brion Hoban

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