Trial of Derry principal Michael Dobbins on rape charges commences

The principal of a Special Needs School has gone on trial at Derry Crown Court on a series of rape and sexual assault charges against a female.

Michael Dobbins
Michael Dobbins

Michael Dobbins (54) of Greenhaw Road in Derry faces a total of 10 charges including 6 charges of rape.

He was also charged with sexual assault on the same female and sexual activity with a female with a mental disorder who could not give consent again on the same dates.

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The court was told that Dobbins was the principal of Ardnashee School for people with learning difficulties.

Gary McHugh KC for the prosecution told the jury that the allegations were made by a female who was a pupil at the school until she was 19-years-old.

He said that the woman would have known Dobbins since she was a child and some members of staff would say she was 'besotted and adored' Dobbins.

The court heard that certain allegations came to light and police interviewed the woman on two occasions in 2015.

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She told police that on one occasion Dobbins brought her into his office, closed the blinds, told her he had left his wife and then proceeded to rape her, the court heard.

After this he gave her a glass of water, the court was told.

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On another occasion she claimed he brought her to his home following a band practice and again raped her in his bedroom, the court heard.

The prosecution said that she would describe the layout of the house and the bedroom.

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She said he also sexually abused her with a hair brush, the court heard.

The jury was told that the alleged victim 'does not have the mental capacity' to consent to any sexual activity at all.

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The court heard that when Dobbins was interviewed he denied the offences and implied some people may have had grudges against him.

The prosecutor said he was satisfied that the jury would return a guilty verdict.

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The trial continues.