Home news Catholic priest jailed for sex abuse granted right to appeal

Catholic priest jailed for sex abuse granted right to appeal


A Catholic priest jailed for sexually abusing a teenage boy has been granted the right to appeal by a senior judge.Michael Higginbottom, 74, from Newcastle, was found guilty of a series of sex assaults when he worked as a teacher at St Joseph’s College, in Upholland, Lancashire in the 1970s.He was jailed for 17 years in April.His lawyers told the Court of Appeal that his convictions were unsafe due to a fraud charge being wrongly put before the jury to discredit him.Higginbottom of West Farm Road, Walker, denied eight counts of sexually abusing the boy when he was aged between 13 and 14, but was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court.

After hearing evidence from Higginbottom’s lawyers, a Court of Appeal panel, led by Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett along with Mr Justice Teare and Mr Justice Kerr, said he had a reasonable case to have his convictions quashed.Mr Justice Teare said: “It appears to this court that there is an arguable point as to whether or not the judge ought to have admitted the evidence of the charge of fraud.”‘Worse than death’The priest, who appeared at the court via video link, spoke only to confirm his name and that he understood the proceedings.During his trial, jurors heard that Higginbottom had a reputation for violence at the seminary, using or threatening physical abuse of pupils.His victim, then in his 50s, said he would be called to Higginbottom’s room, with the threat of punishment if he did not attend.He told jurors that “being left alone at Upholland” was “worse than death”.No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.
Source: BBC Lancashire