‘Sexual healer’ who abused eight women is jailed for 16 years: Charismatic Reiki master conned vulnerable patients
- Michael Ireland, from Stockport, targeted women over a 25-year period
- Told victims their ‘sexual energy points’ were blocked then molested them
- Victim Joanne Mulholland, waives right to anonymity to tell of ordeal
- ‘I was devastated.
He took advantage of me in the worst way possible’
A perverted ‘healer’ who told women their ‘sexual energy points’ were blocked then molested them was jailed for 16 years yesterday.
Michael Ireland, 60, claimed to be skilled at a host of alternative therapies including Reiki, a Japanese form of hands-on treatment.
Over a quarter of a century, the charismatic conman targeted a string of vulnerable women and girls, telling them he would help them with ‘special healing’ which could be carried out only when no one else was around.
Predator: Michael Ireland, left, toured churches targeting women. Victim Joanne Mulholland, right, put her trust in the ‘healer’
Last night one of his victims waived her right to anonymity and told the Daily Mail of her terror as Ireland sexually assaulted her during therapy for a painful back.
Divorcee Joanne Mulholland, 41, said: ‘I was devastated. I felt angry and terribly betrayed. I had trusted him as a professional and yet he took advantage of me in the worst possible way.’
Ireland, from Stockport, initially denied all allegations against him.
But in January, as his trial was due to begin at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, he pleaded guilty to 25 offences including indecent assault and sexual activity with a child committed against eight victims over a 25-year period.
Yesterday several were in court with their families.One woman left in tears as the catalogue of abuse was spelt out.
The court heard that Ireland told one woman her problem was that her breasts and vagina were ‘dead’ and he could help by activating them.
Another was instructed to touch him intimately to get her ‘energy flowing’ again.
One ‘patient’ – a 15-year-old girl – took an overdose to gain ‘respite’ from his abuse.Ireland toured spiritualist churches offering therapies ranging from Reiki – in which he claimed to be a master – to chakra balancing and crystal healing at £15 a session.
At Minshull Street Crown Court (pictured) Campbell, from Oldham admitted four charges of fraud and five of theft and was also ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge
The site failed to mention his conviction for indecently assaulting a girl aged under 14 when he was a teenager.
Mrs Mulholland, a mother of three and IT graduate, first saw Ireland in October 2009 after he offered to cure her back pain.
‘He said to reach my back he needed to feel inside me,’ she said.‘I felt my heart thumping because I knew it wasn’t right. Yet, as I lay there on my own on the healing couch I felt incredibly vulnerable. I couldn’t wait to leave.’
Ireland told Miss Mulholland, from Bolton, that the reason she was in so much pain was because of an ‘energy blockage’.
‘It sounds naive but when he said he was freeing one blockage and his hands wandered inside my bra, I told myself it was necessary,’ she said. ‘But when on the fourth visit he put his hands inside my pants, I never went back.’
Ireland would tell women ‘conventional Reiki will not work but I have a method a little bit controversial’, prosecutor Darren Preston said.
On another occasion he told a woman – who had considered him a ‘mentor’ – that he needed to blow into her mouth to ‘rid her demons’.
Another victim, aged 39, met Ireland at a spiritualist church where he ‘scanned’ her body before suggesting he came to his flat for regular sessions.He told her that her chakra points were broken but could be released through his touch.
Ireland – who sometimes stripped naked – also told her that he was impotent, took her hand and put it inside his trousers, telling her it would ‘get the energy flowing’.
Ireland, described by victims as a ‘very strong powerful person’ who had a ‘presence’, was arrested last July after victims eventually went to police.
Jailing him, Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said many of his victims had lost confidence and blamed themselves for being ‘gullible and naïve’.
Afterwards one of them said: ‘I’m glad that he can’t do it to anybody else.It’s been a living nightmare and I’ve not had any sort of life since it happened.’
Another said she had been unable to work since the abuse. ‘I don’t go out of the house, I have flashbacks and panic attacks.’