Priest convicted of sex abuse is given leave to appeal

A Catholic priest convicted of repeatedly abusing a teenage boy at a seminary in the Wigan area has been given leave to appeal by law lords.

Thursday, 23rd November 2017, 8:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 3:10 am
Father Michael Higginbottom has been given leave to appeal against his conviction for sexual abuse at St Joseph's seminary in Upholland

Father Michael Higginbottom, 74, was jailed for 17 years in April after being found guilty of a catalogue of abuse concerning a boy, then aged 13 and 14, at St Joseph's College at Upholland in the 1970s.

Court of Appeal officials have now confirmed that Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Mr Justice Teare and Mr Justice Kerr, have given leave to appeal, after it was reported that a previous fraud charge should not have been admitted into evidence.

No date has yet been fixed for the appeal, according to a court spokesman, and Higginbottom will remain in custody until the next hearing.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Higginbottom, who was convicted of eight sexual offences, was a teacher at St Joseph's, which trained young boys wanting to become priests.

He told a trial at Liverpool Crown Court "I cried so often I believe I could have drowned in my own tears."

Jurors heard the boy would be struck with a strap if he did not attend Higginbottom’s living quarters, where much of the abuse is said to have happened.

Following the incidents, the victim said that his schoolwork suffered and he became rebellious.

The same individual had also alleged that two other priests at St Joseph's had abused him, but they have since died.

Higginbottom, of West Farm Road in Newcastle, went on to become a parish priest.

Passing sentence after his conviction, Judge Andrew Gwyn Menary QC said: "You employed methods which today, if not then, would be recognised for what they were - cruel and sadistic bullying.”