Past school friends wept and embraced in court after a jury found a former school principal guilty of 59 indecent assaults over a 21-year period.
After deliberating for five hours and 35 minutes at Ennis Circuit Court, a jury unanimously found Patrick Barry of Well Road, Kilkee, guilty of indecent assaults on 11 primary school girls between 1964 and 1985 at Moyasta school in West Clare.
The emotional scenes came after Judge Gerald Keyes recorded that the jury found the accused guilty on 59 counts of indecent assault. The judge had directed the jury to find Mr Barry not guilty on eight outstanding counts, for legal reasons.
Counsel for the State, Anthony Sammon SC said: “It is the express wish of the complainants that Mr Barry be named”.
Judge Keyes ordered that Mr Barry be identified and placed on the sex offenders’ register.
The Garda investigation into the offences began in 2010 and Mr Barry was subsequently charged at the district court.
However, legal challenges brought on behalf of Mr Barry in the High Court and the Supreme Court delayed the trial until now.
Four of the victims are sisters who attended the school where Mr Barry taught 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes and was principal from 1964 to 1989.
“He took advantage of us, he used to grope at us at every opportunity. I couldn’t credit the man with anything. He terrorised all of us — I can’t remember any happy moment at the school,” one of the sisters told the court.
Another victim told the trial: “We were country children and we were subjected to this behaviour. We didn’t know what sex was, we certainty didn’t know what he was doing, other than it was horrible and we knew that it wasn’t right.
She said: “It is still horrible. It was wrong and it is still wrong,” adding: “He would visit our parents. As a result, there was no win, it was a word of a child against him.”
The victim told the jury that Mr Barry “was a very violent, vicious, teacher who had no respect for the children in his care”.
Another said Mr Barry inappropriately touched her “and practically every other girl in the classroom” in 1976 and 1977.
The woman — who travelled back from the US to give evidence — said that the inappropriate touching occurred “practically every day” when she was 11 and 12 in 5th and 6th class.
The former principal was remanded on continuing bail to October 28 when a date will be set for sentencing.
Outside the court, the victims wiped the tears away from their eyes and continued to embrace each other.
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