Norfolk

Norfolk family doctor jailed for 12 years over child rapes

Dr Hugh O'Neill Image copyright Archant
Image caption Jailed for 12 years, Dr Hugh Blaise O'Neill has also been suspended by NHS managers

A family doctor has been jailed for 12 years for raping and sexually assaulting two children.

Dr Hugh Blaise O'Neill, 61, from Tasburgh in Norfolk, had admitted raping and sexually assaulting them.

Norwich Crown Court heard the two girls, under 14 at the time of the attacks, were robbed of a childhood.

O'Neill admitted two counts of rape and one count of gross indecency against one victim, and two counts of gross indecency against the second victim.

Judge Anthony Bate said: "These offences reflect sustained sexual abuse.

"The enduring impact of that violation is movingly and poignantly described in the victim's statement.

"It was a breach of trust of the utmost gravity."

Marriage over

One of the victims said she could no longer trust others and regarded the abuse as her "terrible secret".

Her statement said: "There is not one evening that goes by when I don't relive what he did to me before going to sleep at night."

The other said she felt like she had been terrorised and had slept with a knife under her pillow in order to feel safe.

"When I think about my childhood, I feel as though it was taken away from me," she added.

O'Neill's offending, not linked to his role as a GP, came to light after one victim, now an adult, contacted police.

Michael Clare, mitigating for the former Norfolk police surgeon, accepted O'Neill's behaviour represented a breach of trust.

He said in every other aspect of his life, O'Neill was a law abiding, caring and "outstanding" man.

"One week ago his wife told him that their marriage is over. He is at about the lowest ebb he has ever been."

The doctor is set to face further allegations, the court was told.

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