Category Archives: Sentence: 15 Years+
A spiritual healer and clairvoyant psychic has been jailed for 16 years after he abused eight women on his treatment table.
Renowned reiki master Michael Ireland, 60, used his reputation gained in conducting services at spiritualist churches across Cheshire and Greater Manchester over many years to target his emotionally vulnerable victims.
He would then go on to sexually assault them at his flat in the guise of undoing their “emotional blockages”, while he also persuaded two women to perform sexual “healing” acts on him.
Pony-tailed Ireland, from Stockport, consistently denied he had done anything wrong until the day of his scheduled trial at Manchester Minshull Street Crown in January when he pleaded guilty to 25 counts of various sexual offences committed over a 25-year-period.
When denying his guilt in police interviews, he told detectives: “It is like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and I can’t understand why.”
Darren Preston, prosecuting, said: “The defendant holds himself out as a clairvoyant psychic healer and a reiki master. That practice has seen him in many years going to various spiritualist churches acting as a medium and healing people with what he described as ‘emotional blockages’. He went to psychic centres and carried out treatment at his home.
“It is the prosecution’s case that in the nature of his work he would come across vulnerable people who could be easily exploited.
“The majority of his victims came into contact with him through his supposed spiritual practice. The defendant used his relative power over these women to satisfy his sexual desires.”
One woman met him in 2009 at a church where he took a healing class and she later confided in him that she was suffering bad dreams.
Ireland went on to tell her that she was “carrying demons” and that he would rid them by blowing on her mouth and stomach.
Mr Preston said: “In short he convinced her that there was something wrong with her and that conventional reiki would not help.
“He said he had a healing method which was a little controversial. He described it as special healing you would only do when no-one else was around.”
That led him to touching her intimately as she laid on his healing table, the court heard.
The victim said she had convinced herself that Ireland’s behaviour was normal and acceptable.
A year later he told another woman that her private parts were “not working, they were dead and they needed healing”.
A third victim was informed that her sexual chakra energy points were blocked and he needed to loosen them.
Ireland then said he was impotent and convinced her to “heal” him by touching his private parts.
As she did so she recalled Ireland saying: “I can feel the energy moving.”
She described the defendant as a “very strong, powerful personality who had a presence about him”.
Ireland also admitted historic sexual offences against two victims when they were underage – one dating back to the mid-1980s and the other from 2010.
The more recent case involved a young girl with emotional problems who was introduced to Ireland by her mother who had undergone healing herself from him.
Ireland began repeatedly abusing her from the age of 15 while supposedly healing her.
His earlier child victim was only aged seven or eight before he began touching her intimately on his treatment table – abuse which continued until her early teens.
One middle-aged woman in the public gallery burst into tears as the details of the case were outlined and left the courtroom before she later returned before Ireland was sentenced.
In a summary of the various impact statements, Mr Preston said one woman suffers from flashbacks and has become a recluse, one felt “sullied” by the defendant and thought it “bizarre” that she had effectively paid money to be abused and another woman explained she could no longer trust anyone.
Ireland had three previous convictions, with one of relevance. In 1972 the defendant was fined for indecently assaulting a girl aged under 14 when he was 18-years-old, the court heard.
John Broadley, defending, said a large number of references had been gathered for his clients from within his community.
It portrayed a different side to his character and displayed his many works of charity, particularly in the church, and his dedication to his profession, he said.
The good work that had earned his reputation had effectively enabled him to commit the offences without detection, the barrister said.
“This has been a deserved shock to the defendant and his system,” he said. “He does not have the best of health and is being treated for various conditions.”
Ireland had so far embraced rehabilitation programmes in prison and it would be hoped that he would come out of custody a different man, said Mr Broadley.
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar noted that Ireland had attempted to continue as a reiki healer under a different name before he eventually entered guilty pleas.
Sentencing him, the judge said: “Because of your reputation that you had built up in this particular field, people trusted you. What you said they accepted as being right.
“Your relationship with those women was very much akin to that of a relationship between that of a doctor and a patient which entails an enormous amount of trust…and sadly you abused that trust.”
He said pre-sentence reports had concluded he currently posed a significant risk of causing serious harm by committing similar offences and he agreed with that view.
“You present a danger to the public for the foreseeable future,” he said.
“The most ironic thing which I find in this case is you were to tell a probation officer that you yourself was the subject of abuse in your childhood and it affected you. And here you were perpetrating abuse against others and not thinking for a second as to what impact it may have on your victims.”
Ireland, of Bosden Fold, was jailed for a total of 16 years for various sexual offences including sexual assault, sexual activity with a child, assault by penetration and causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.
He was ordered to sign the Sexual Offender Register for life and will also serve an additional three years on licence when he leaves custody.
Detective Constable Rebecca Haley, of Greater Manchester Police’s public protection investigation unit in Stockport, said: “Ireland is a predatory sex offender who over more than two decades sexually assaulted six women and two children.
“He was a revered reiki master, spiritual healer and clairvoyant who people went to for comfort, help or support.
“When they were at their most trusting and vulnerable he abused his position and the faith placed in him for his own sexual gratification.
“This has been a complex and protracted investigation due to the number of women who continued to come forward and I am pleased they have now seen justice served.
“Greater Manchester Police would encourage anybody who has been a victim of sexual abuse to come forward with the confidence that their concerns will be taken seriously and dealt with sensitively.”
A man who conned tax officials out of £34 million has been jailed for 17 years, police said, with a co-conspirator from Suffolk receiving a suspended sentence.
Thomas Scragg, of Rotherhams Oak Lane in Hockley Heath was handed the prison sentence after being convicted of three separate fraud convictions against HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The latest, in March last year, was for stealing millions of pounds in employee PAYE tax following a joint investigation by West Midlands Police and HMRC.
The extent of Scragg’s racket has remained a secret until now as cases against his two co-defendants – Carl and Anthony Johnson from Wolverhampton – progressed through court, West Midlands Police said. But the brothers’ convictions for laundering Scragg’s ill-gotten gains has now lifted reporting restrictions.
Scragg used his business Moya Payroll, which managed staff wages of construction industry companies, to steal over £26 million in tax over a five-year period between 2002 and 2007. His co-defendant, 60-year-old Paul Phillips of Glebe House in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, was jailed for nine years for his part in the set-up.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how brothers Carl Johnson, 49, of Bushbury Road in Bushbury, Wolverhampton, and Anthony Johnson, 51, of The Avenue, also in Bushbury, lived extravagant lifestyles in return for their “protection services”. They are to be sentenced at a later date.
The investigations into Scragg’s empire also led to the convictions of nine co-conspirators who helped him carry out the fraud. Mark Harris, Mark Kenny and Sital Sheamar were all charged with conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and money laundering after they illegally tried to release the equity in Scragg’s fraudulent company. All three were jailed in March this year.
The other men involved were: David Wilson-Gill, 40, of Marsh Moss Lane, Ormskirk, Lancashire, who was sentenced to four years in prison; Andrew Savin, 47, of Cranfield Grove, Yardley, Birmingham, who was sentenced to five years in prison; Alfred Namutulo, 59, of Rosemary Hill, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, who was sentenced to six years inprison.
George White, 64, of Rashwood Farm, Rashwood, Droitwich, who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison; Bruce Hartle, 54, of Morland Road, Great Barr, who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison; Steven Oakley, 56, of The Oaks, Haverhill Road, Little Wratting, Haverhill, Suffolk, who was given a suspended sentence.
Mark Harris, 31, of Wolverhampton, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison; Mark Kenny, 50, of Whitethorn Crescent, Streetly was sentenced to 14 months in prison; Sital Sheamar, 45, of Redwood Close, Coseley, who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years inprison.