London Irish (10) 22
Hickey was responsible for 14 of his side's 22 points
Pens: Hickey (4)
Leicester (7) 13
Pens: Goode (2)
Leicester missed the opportunity to go top of the Premiership as London Irish made them pay for an error-ridden performance at the Madejski Stadium.
Exiles' back-row Richard Thorpe and Leicester's Ayoola Erinle exchanged tries as Irish led 10-7 at the break.
Andy Goode drew Leicester level, but a trio of missed penalties proved costly.
Eoghan Hickey kicked a conversion and three penalties, while Mike Catt weighed in with a long-range drop-goal to hand the hosts victory.
Irish came into the game knowing they had to win if they are going to be realistic contenders for a top-four spot come May.
And, following a 30-minute delay to kick-off because of a frozen pitch, they made a blistering start.
The impressive Shane Geraghty, in England's 31-man training squad for next weekend's Six Nations clash in France, was immediately picking holes in the Tigers defence and within five minutes he sent Topsy Ojo racing clear only for the wing to be held up by Geordan Murphy.
Play was brought back for an Irish penalty, however, and Hickey made no mistake in front of the posts.
Defending an area of the pitch which remained frozen, Tigers were struggling and it came as no surprise when Thorpe went over after an incisive break by Delon Armitage.
Goode squandered one penalty in the first half and two in the second
Hickey's conversion put Irish 10-0 up but Tigers hit back immediately as Goode breached the home defence and presented Erinle with a straightforward run-in.
Soon afterwards Geraghty injured his knee in a collision with team-mate Fann Rautenbach and, worryingly for England, was forced off shortly before half-time.
After the re-start Tigers drew level thanks to a Goode penalty but as Leicester dropped their intensity and began making numerous unforced errors, Hickey restored and then extended Irish's lead with three penalties.
After one first-half miss, Goode wasted two further penalties to put Leicester in contention for a bonus point that would have closed the gap on leaders Gloucester.
And Catt finished them off with a drop-kick from in excess of 40 yards.
London Irish coach Brian Smith on Paul Hodgson's chances of being in the England squad to play France on Saturday:
"I think Paul Hodgson today played himself into the England 22.
"There's been some question marks about the other scrum-halves' and if (England coach) Brian Ashton saw his performance today, it was courageous.
"When you go to France you're going to need people to front up and I think that he's played himself into the 22."
Leicester coach Marcelo Loffreda:
"When we had the ball we didn't keep the possession. There was a lack of concentration in some basic things.
"There were times in the first half when we should have scored and didn't and you pay a high price for that.
"Then, because of desperation, we gave away too many penalties."
London Irish: Hewat, Ojo, D. Armitage, Geraghty (Catt, 36), Tagicakibau, Hickey, Hodgson, Lea'aetoa (Skuse, 58), Paice (Coetzee, 58), Rautembach (D. Murphy, 47), Kennedy (Hudson, 69), Casey, Roche (P. Murphy, 69), S. Armitage, Thorpe.
Replacements Not Used: Fury.
Leicester: G. Murphy, Varndell, Erinle, O. Smith, J. Murphy, Goode, Laussucq, Stankovich, Kayser (Chuter, 63), Castrogiovanni, Hamilton, Kay, Croft, Herring (Crane, 65), Corry.
Replacements Not Used: Moreno, Deacon, F. Murphy, Humphreys, Hipkiss.
Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).