David Temkin and Ray Smith secure conviction of priest for multiple historic sex offences

August 1, 2019

David Temkin and Ray Smith have secured guilty verdicts to all counts on an indictment containing 12 offences of buggery and indecent assault. After a two week trial, the jury at Burnley Crown Court convicted Michael Higginbottom, a former Catholic priest, of the dreadful, systematic and regular sexual abuse of two young boys, then aged between 13 and 15. The boys were unknown to each other but the horrific abuse they suffered over many months was strikingly similar. The offences took place at St Joseph’s Seminary in Upholland, Lancashire in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

David and Ray successfully prosecuted this Defendant in respect of the first complainant in 2017 at Liverpool Crown Court. That jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts. However, after fresh evidence emerged, the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial. It was in the intervening period that the second complainant found the courage to report his experiences.

The 76-year-old Defendant has been imprisoned for 18 years. Sentencing, HHJ Woolman said, “You were in the highest position of trust in relation to these boys, who you abused in a quite appalling way.”

Detective Sergeant Stephen Ollerton, lead investigator, said, “One of the key reasons for this success was prosecuting counsel. David Temkin and Ray Smith’s full commitment to the case shone out brightly. Their attention to detail and level of preparation was first-class. Their communication style was inclusive and fully consultative. This was a genuine team effort which was deliberately encouraged by David and Ray.”

To read more coverage on the case and sentencing from The Independent, click here.