Northern Ireland news

Principal of special needs school on trial on rape and sexual assault charges

Michael Dobbins (54) of Greenhaw Road in Derry faces 10 charges

THE principal of a special needs school has gone on trial on rape and sexual assault charges against a female.

Michael Dobbins (54) of Greenhaw Road in Derry faces 10 charges including rape on dates between January 1 2013 and February 23 2015. 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.

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.He said this woman had a condition which meant she was unable to deal with many life skills.

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

On another occasion she claimed he brought her to his home following a band practice and sexually assaulted again.

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

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

The trial continues.

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