Former scout leader David Barry (72) jailed for five years for indecent and sexual assaults on 10 boys over a 22-year period

David Barry. Picture: Provision

David Barry. Picture: Provision

David Barry at Cork Court Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

David Barry at Cork Court Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

Ralph Riegel

A FORMER senior scout leader who plied teens with alcohol and showed them German porn films before abusing them while they slept in his home was jailed for five years.

David Barry (72) was jailed after he admitted sexually and indecently assaulting a total of ten boys over a 22 year period.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain warned Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Barry - who ran a successful Cork photographic business - had breached every possible concept of trust with his abuse of innocent children.

Barry had once reached the rank of Regional Cork Commissioner in the now defunct Catholic Boys Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) - one of the most senior scout ranks in Ireland.

The court heard that, for some of his victims, Barry had plied the teens with alcohol when they were staying over at their scout masters house.

He would also show some of the teens German porn films.

Barry would then creep into their bedrooms at his home and attempt to fondle their private parts.

On occasions, he would enter the boys bedrooms in his home while wearing only an underpants.

On another occasion, he tricked a teen into being naked with him on the pretext of showing him how to deal with hypothermia after a winter hike.

Another victim said that, in later years, he wondered whether he had been recorded while taking showers at Barry's home.

One was so afraid of what Barry might attempt during the night he wore Bermuda shorts going to bed which were tightly tied at the waist.

The victims were all aged between 13 and 17 years at the time of the abuse.

Detective Garda Gary Duggan said Barry not only ran a successful Cork photographic business but was also once a Peace Commissioner and rose to the rank of Cork Commissioner in the CBSI.

"He had the perfect cover story for parents to entrust children into his care," he said.

Barry had a full bar installed in his six-bedroom home in 1993 - and supplied cider and other alcohol to some teens who stayed over after scout events.

Four of his victims, in harrowing victim impact statements to the court, warned that they would not allow Barry's abuse to destroy their lives.

"You fooled people into thinking you were an upstanding member of society," one warned.

Another victim described Barry's actions as "vile and self-gratifying".

"In a mendacious and manipulative fashion you have betrayed every trust place in you," he said.

"For your own venal reasons you betrayed the trust of your friends, family and society for your own perverse gratification."

"Your actions over the years are manifestly unforgivable and your manipulation of innocents shows cunning, forethought and a careful planning process which demonstrates your so-called apology is insincere and cannot be taken as valid."

Another victim said Barry abused innocent children for his own gratification with no thought as to the future consequences for them.

Another said that while Barry acted as a pillar of the Cork community with his successful photographic business, use of "a flash car", living in a large property and even helping to run a children's Santa Grotto each year, he was nothing but "a bad apple in the community."

He said thinking of Barry's actions made his "skin crawl."

"It was sheer terror...night after night, of watching every hour and being afraid to fall asleep [in the house]."

"He used a position of power and trust to abuse us.

"Your actions are unforgivable."

Judge O'Donnabhain imposed a seven-year prison sentence but agreed to suspend the final two years in light of Barry's plea, remorse, advanced age and medical issues.

The pensioner has arthritis and serious cardiac complaints.

Defence counsel Tom Creed SC said there was no question of a threat or violence being involved in any of the incidents.

Mr Creed said his client has serious underlying health issues and was deeply remorseful for what had happened.

"He breached every concept of care and trust possible," the judge said.

"It would not be unfair to say he preyed on these children."

He added that the use of alcohol and pornography to inveigle the teens to stay over at his house was also an aggravating factor.

"He was an adult and these were children aged from 13 to 17 years. They were in his care either as a scout master or an adult. This was a significant breach of trust. It was a very serious misuse of his position."

Judge O'Donnabhain said the abuse was clearly at the higher end of the scale.

Barry pleaded guilty to a total of 29 charges of indecent assault and sexual assault stretching back to 1986.

He is one of the highest profile former scout leaders to be jailed for abuse.

Judge O'Donnabhain said that the number of victims and the duration over which the abuse incidents occurred were significant aggravating factors.

Barry, with an address at Montrose, Firgrove Gardens, Bishopstown, Cork admitted the charges last April when he appeared for the first time before Judge O'Donnabhain at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

He pleaded guilty to a total of 29 charges of indecent assault and sexual assault on various dates unknown over a period from December 12, 1986 to June 30, 2008.

The offences involved a total of ten different teenage boys - all of whom are now middle aged.

The ten boys - all former members of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) and scout movement - had levelled the complaints involved which triggered a major Garda investigation running over several years in Cork.

The first complaint to Gardaí was lodged three years ago and Barry was arrested in November 2018 and again in February 2020.

Nothing can be published which might identify the victims involved.

All ten boys involved were aged between 13 and 17 years at the time of the indecent and sexual assaults.


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