A former scout leader was sentenced to prison for five years at a sitting of Cork Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty to 29 charges of sexually and indecently assaulting ten boys—all aged between 13 and 17 years at the time—over a period of 22 years between 1986 and 2008.
David Barry (72), of Montrose, Firgrove Gardens, Bishopstown, Cork, ran a successful photographic business in Cork and was once a Peace Commissioner. He reached the position of Regional Cork Commissioner in the now-defunct Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland, and as such, is one of the most high-profile former scout leaders to be jailed for abuse.
The court was told that Barry plied some of his victims with alcohol while staying at their scout master’s house and showed some of them German pornographic films. He would enter their bedrooms at his home—sometimes wearing only underpants and attempting to fondle their genitals. Once, he used a purported demonstration of how to deal with hypothermia as a pretext to trick a teenage boy into being naked with him.
Four of Barry’s victims gave victim impact statements to the court, saying that they would not allow his abuse to destroy their lives. One spoke of Barry fooling people into believing he was an upstanding member of society. Another described his actions as “vile and self-gratifying” and his apology as insincere. A third spoke of Barry’s disregard for the future consequences of his abuse of his victims. A fourth described Barry as a “bad apple” disguised as a pillar of the community and his actions as “unforgivable.”
Judge Ó Donnabháin said that Barry’s abuse of innocent children breached every possible concept of trust. He sentenced Barry to seven years in prison with the final two years suspended in light of Barry’s guilty plea, remorse, age, and medical difficulties, including arthritis and serious cardiac issues. He noted as aggravating factors Barry’s use of alcohol and pornography to manipulate the boys and the number of victims, and the long period over which the abuse was perpetrated. He described Barry’s actions as a “severe misuse of his position” and stated that the abuse was clearly at the higher end of the scale.
The first complaint to the Gardaí of sexual assault against Barry was made three years ago, and he was arrested in November 2018 and again in February 2020. He pleaded guilty to the charges against him on his first appearance before Judge Ó Donnabháin last April.