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Sex abuse principal is sent to jail for 6 years

A JUDGE said yesterday that a retired 80-year-old school principal had stolen the youth of his victims and robbed them of their childhood when sexually abusing them over a 21-year period.

Judge Gerald Keyes made his comments at Ennis Circuit Court when sentencing Patrick Barry (inset), of Well Road, Kilkee, to 11 years in jail for the sexual assault of 11 girls at Moyasta NS between 1964 and 1985. He was sentenced to one year for each of the victims.

The girls were aged between 9 and 13 when the abuse took place. Now middle-aged women, they hugged each other and wept openly at the back of the court-room yesterday after Judge Keyes passed sentence.

He suspended the final five years in light of Barry's age and health.

Speaking outside court, one victim said justice had been served, and added that she could never forgive Barry for his failure to show any remorse for the abuse he committed.

Later, as he was waiting to be escorted to the prison van in handcuffs, he had to run a gauntlet of other prisoners shouting abuse at him.

One of the victims in court described Barry as "a vicious wolf" lying in wait for her every day "and terrorised and abused me daily for years".

In his judgment, Judge Keyes said Barry held a position of trust and "you abused the girls for your own sexual satisfaction".

"You undermined their trust in adults, stole their youth and robbed them of their childhood," he said.

Barry was found guilty of 59 counts of sexual assault after a nine-day trial in Ennis in July and was on bail until yesterday's hearing.

"Throughout the trial, you have maintained . . . that all the allegations of sexual assault made by each of the 11 complainants were untrue, false and untrustworthy and a distortion of the truth," the judge said. "Despite the verdict of the jury, you have shown no remorse."

Judge Keyes said Barry had "permanently scarred the lives of 11 pupils".