A former hypnotist who sexually preyed on 10 women was jailed for four years today.
Richard Tilley, 67, used relaxation techniques on vulnerable victims who came to his home in Derry seeking help before he carried out the indecent assaults.
Women aged between 22 and 60, who wanted to beat addictions, overcome previous sexual abuse or bereavement were all exploited, Derry Crown Court was told.
Sentencing Tilley to four years in jail and a further two years on probation, Judge Corinne Philpott told him: “You have acted in an appalling manner.
“You have duped and taken in vulnerable and naïve women who came to you to be helped.
“At least two of the victims didn’t come back because they realised they were uncomfortable, they knew what was happening was wrong and they wanted nothing more to do with you.
“You were the educated man, you were the person who made these women believe what you were doing was going to do them good.”
Tilley pleaded guilty to a total of 21 offences between March 2002 and October 2004.
The abuse happened at a clinic he had set up at his Brentwood Park home in the city’s Foyle Springs area.
The former RAF man, who worked under the professional name Richard Glenn, specialised in helping clients stop smoking. But he also offered hypnotherapy as well as laser and acupuncture treatment.
The women he assaulted, however, were regularly persuaded to undress before Tilley would touch and fondle their breasts and groin areas.
A laser pen which he told them was part of the treatment was used to indecently assault at least one of his victims, while another woman told police he had assaulted her with his fingers.
None of the 10 he abused were ever hypnotised, but on some occasions their partners were waiting outside his surgery while the attacks were carried out.
He urged one 24-year-old woman who went to be treated for stress, anxiety and sexual problems between October and November 2003 not to reveal how she had been stripped and massaged naked.
Jacqueline Orr QC, prosecuting, said: “After he finished he told her not to mention it to anyone because some people might find it a bid odd.”
She had recalled feeling uncomfortable when Tilley asked her to remove her trousers and told her it would be beneficial if he inserted his laser pen into her vagina, the court was told.
“The complainant expressed concern about this and said in her statement she felt panicky,” Ms Orr said.
“But he told her to think about that for the next session.”
As well as the sentence the judge imposed on Tilley he was banned from practising as a hypnotherapist and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.
A 35-year-old woman who sought relief from tension headaches had been told by Tilley in May 2003 that she needed a full body massage.
After she stripped he touched her breasts and groin area asking the victim to remove her pants.
“During the massage he moved his hand up towards her vagina and inserted a finger into her vagina,” Ms Orr said.
“The complainant did not want to embarrass herself … but the defendant kept telling her she was a beautiful woman and not to tell her partner.”
Another woman, aged 56, who attended in a bid to beat her addiction to cigarettes, was assaulted in the same way.
Ms Orr stressed that even though none of the women were actually hypnotised they had all been made to feel fully relaxed by Tilley.
As well as his abuse of these three clients, he asked for a further 14 offences involving seven other women to be dealt with.
Naked massages, inappropriate touching and use of his laser pen featured heavily in many of the cases.
One woman who was undressed had Tilley’s hands placed on what he described as her “Chinese pressure points”.
He also made another victim feel at ease with him by discussing her strong Christian faith with her, the court was told. As the litany of assaults emerged the judge interrupted to express her astonishment at what had happened.
She said: “No reputable doctor or alternative medicine professional would regard this type of treatment as having anything to do with reducing stress or stopping smoking or anything of that nature.”
She agreed with the crown’s assessment that it had been purely for Tilley’s sexual gratification.
On another occasion sometime during October 2004 a victim said Tilley had put sticky plasters on her breasts and pubic hair.
“Then he used the laser pen to treat her, but she never returned to the defendant following that one visit,” Ms Orr said.
When detectives first questioned Tilley in July 2003 he denied any sexual wrongdoing or asking the woman who had lodged the complaint to undress.
But after he was re-arrested in December 2004, Ms Orr told the court: “At that interview he said he maybe took advantage of them and touched them but he still attempted to play down the seriousness of the offences.”
She added: “All of the victims in this case were women and all can be classed as vulnerable women.
“The majority had been suffering from low self-esteem, depression, weight problems, previous sexual abuse or bereavement.
“All were convinced by the defendant to remove some or all of their clothing and all described how the defendant, although not hypnotising them, went to great lengths to put them at ease and to tell them the treatment they were about to receive would be of great benefit to them.
“He told some of those women, at least two, not to tell anyone what was happening.”
Defence barrister Martin Rodgers had pleaded for leniency because of Tilley’s previous clear record and due to the stress the case had brought upon his family, particularly his terminally ill wife.
He said: “He has brought shame upon his family. The good standing in the community and within his professional body, he has lost all of that.
“To his credit he did plead guilty.”
Judge Philpott accepted his unblemished record up until 2003, but insisted he was not a man with significant personality problems, or one who had abused children.
She also suggested that in future men in Tilley’s position should not be allowed to be alone with women.
“What this case does illustrate is if women are going for alternative therapy and they are going to be in a position with men where they are going to have to be stripped to a degree, then both for the safety of women and the safety of innocent men carrying out proper massage treatment, it is perhaps advisable to look at a female being present.”
Turning to Tilley she said: “You have abused your position and you have reduced the trust that women can have in therapists that do therapy work and indeed many of whom no doubt do a great deal of good.”
Some of his victims, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were in court for the sentencing, but declined to comment on the outcome.