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Norfolk GP and former police doctor jailed for 12 years for subjecting girls to “terrifying” sexual abuse

PUBLISHED: 17:23 30 January 2015 | UPDATED: 17:23 30 January 2015

Photo: Hugh O'Neill

Photo: Hugh O'Neill

A GP has been jailed for 12 years after a court heard he robbed two teenage girls of their childhood by subjecting them to “terrifying” sexual abuse.

Dr Hugh Blaise O’Neill, 61, of Tasburgh, in Norfolk, had earlier admitted raping and sexually assaulting the two children and appeared at Norwich Crown Court for sentencing.

The court heard that his crimes represented a “fall from grace” for a respected member of the community who worked as a Norfolk Police surgeon during the 1980s and as GP for 37 years.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said the girls were aged under 14 at the time of the attacks.

O’Neill’s offending, which is not linked to his role as a doctor, came to light after one of the now adult victims was prompted to contact police as a result of media coverage of high profile sexual abuse cases, Mr Jackson added.

One of the victims said in a statement that she could no longer trust others and she regarded the abuse as her “terrible secret”.

She added: “It was the most terrifying experience of my life.

“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 pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and one count of gross indecency against one victim, and two counts of gross indecency against a second victim.

Sentencing him to 12 years in prison, 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.

“You are now a broken man - your disgrace is complete.”

Michael Clare, mitigating, accepted that O’Neill’s behaviour represented a breach of trust.

He said that in every other aspect of his life, O’Neill was a law abiding, caring and “outstanding” man.

“The higher you have risen in life, the harder the fall from grace,” he added.

“He is experiencing that now: one week ago his wife told him that their marriage is over. He is at about the lowest ebb he has ever been.”

O’Neill has been suspended from his duties by local NHS managers.

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