Paedophile principal who assaulted 11 female pupils has his sentence reduced

Patrick Barry pleaded not guilty to indecently assaulting the girls at Moyasta National School
Patrick Barry pleaded not guilty to indecently assaulting the girls at Moyasta National School

An 81-year-old former primary school principal jailed for indecently assaulting 11 of his female pupils has had his six-year jail term reduced to two by the Court of Appeal.

Patrick Barry, of Well Road, Kilkee, Co Clare, had pleaded not guilty to 67 charges of indecently assaulting 11 women on dates between 1964 and 1985 while they attended Moyasta National School as pupils.

He was found guilty by a jury of 59 counts of indecent assault and not guilty of the remaining eight counts by direction of the trial judge Judge Gerald Keyes.

Barry was given an effective sentence of 11 years imprisonment with the final five suspended by Judge Keyes at Ennis Circuit Criminal Court on November 19 2014.

Speaking on behalf of the Court of Appeal today, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the trial judge had erred in locating the gravity of the offending at the starting point of 11 years imprisonment.

Mr Justice Sheehan said the trial judge seemed to have held that the absence of remorse was an aggravating factor and while remorse may be a mitigating factor the obverse could not be held.

The Court of Appeal considered five years as the appropriate starting point for Barry's sentence but his advanced age and serious health problems were not such to warrant a wholly suspended sentence.

Bearing in mind his age, health problems and the “significant contribution” he made to his community on retirement, Mr Justice Sheehan said the court would suspend the final three years of the five year sentence.

He was required to enter into his own bond of €1000 to keep the peace and be of good behavour for the suspended period of the sentence.

The court heard that Barry had a release date of May 20 2019. Following his successful sentence appeal he is likely to finish serving his new sentence next Spring. 

In an unsuccessful appeal against conviction last month, Mr Justice Sheehan said the court was “unable to hold” with the former teacher on any of his 12 grounds of appeal.

Mr Justice Sheehan said Barry had been a teacher in a small, mixed, two teacher school in rural County Clare 30 to 50 years ago.

Eleven of his female pupils claimed that when they were in fifth and sixth class they were indecently assaulted by him, the judge said.

Mr Justice Sheehan said Barry would sit down beside the girls at their desks and touch them indecently or would call them to the front of the class and make them stand between his legs while he was pressed against them.

Sometimes, the judge said, he brought their hands up and down his legs and made some of them touch his genital area.

Apart from two particular complaints, all the offences occurred in the classroom in the presence of other pupils, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

Counsel for Barry, Roderick O'Hanlon SC, had submitted that the sentencing judge did not set out the special circumstances as to why Barry's sentences were imposed consecutively.

Had Barry been prosecuted 30 years ago, Mr O'Hanlon said, a court would not have found it appropriate to impose consecutive sentences, Mr O'Hanlon said.

Mr O'Hanlon said Moyasta was a very small community where everybody knew each other. As such, the loss in standing for Barry would have a very significant affect on him for the balance of his life.

Furthermore, Mr O'Hanlon said Barry has a significant hearing problem. Since going to prison his hearing aid broke and it wasn't repaired for three months or longer.