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Jail for quack who circumcised baby in 'barbaric' fashion

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Philip Ogbewe, a fridge technician, masqueraded as a doctor

Philip Ogbewe, a fridge technician, masqueraded as a doctor

Philip Ogbewe, a fridge technician, masqueraded as a doctor

A 55-year-old man has been jailed for three years for carrying out a "barbaric" circumcision without anaesthetic on a 10-month-old boy.

The baby needed emergency medical attention and was hospitalised for two weeks.

Nigerian father-of-six Philip Ogbewe, who has lived in Ireland for 20 years and resides at Green Lanes, Drogheda, Co Louth, used a blade on the infant during a crude cultural circumcision.

The baby was bleeding heavily afterwards and was taken to the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, before he was transferred to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin. He has made a full recovery.

Cruelty

His mother, who had sought the circumcision, had thought Ogbewe, a grocer and fridge technician, was a doctor, Longford Circuit Criminal Court was told.

"It is a barbaric act of cruelty on a 10-month-old, even allowing for cultural norms," Judge Keenan Johnson had said after hearing the evidence.

He said the defendant had masqueraded as a doctor, "albeit a quack doctor", and he was well aware of the cultural norms in Ireland.

Ogbewe, who called himself Doctor Philip, had been known in his community for carrying out circumcisions since he was in his mid-teens, the court was told.

It was a tradition in his family going back a number of generations to his great-grandfather.

Ogbewe had continued performing them while on bail which was revoked in November, the judge noted.

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The Midland Regional Hospital

The Midland Regional Hospital

The Midland Regional Hospital

The accused had lived in Ireland long enough to know it was not allowed, Judge Johnson said.

He noted from evidence that Ogbewe already had made enquiries about the legitimacy of his circumcisions here, and he had been left in no doubt.

He described the offence at the "higher end of recklessness" and "the procedure, on a 10-month-old child without anaesthetic or proper sterilisation, was obviously reckless in the extreme".

A hospital report also described it as botched but Ogbewe thought it was a fantastic job, the court heard.

Ogbewe pleaded guilty reckless endangerment of life, at the infant's home in a midlands town on December 4, 2015.

A second charge of falsely representing himself as a medical practitioner was struck out.

Yesterday, Judge Johnson imposed a four-year sentence with the final 12 months suspended on condition he does not reoffend within the next 10 years.

He has to remain on probation supervision to address his offending behaviour for 12 months after release.

Judge Johnson also ordered him to refrain from carrying out any medical procedure of any kind, or from holding himself out as a medical practitioner.

The investigation commenced after gardai were contacted by staff from the hospital in Mullingar who had been treating the baby for heavy bleeding to the genital area.

Garda Sergeant Paul Carney said the circumcision was carried out in a "crude manner".

He said the child's mother paid Ogbewe €200 when he travelled to her home and performed the circumcision with a small knife.

The mother was later described as traumatised.