A retired Dublin school teacher has being convicted of fondling school boys five decades ago.
Patrick Harte (aged 78) of Glendown Park, Templeogue, Dublin had denied 11 counts of indecent assault of seven complainants at the Sancta Maria Christian Brothers on Synge Street, Dublin city centre. The alleged offences took place on dates between September 1968 and September 1970.
The jury of six men and six women began deliberations on Friday but from this morning they began using a court room, instead of the smaller jury room, to deliberate.
Jurors were spread out around the court room and kept this social distancing position even when the judge, courts staff and others returned to the court room to take their verdicts.
One juror was wearing a hard plastic mask which covered his nose and mouth. Another juror had his face partially covered with a scarf.
After a little over six hours, they brought in guilty verdict on all counts. The verdicts were by majority with two jurors dissenting.
The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the defendant was a teacher at the primary school in the late 60s when the complainants were aged around 10.
Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, told the jury that the accused would fondle some of the boys after calling them to the top of the class. She said he allegedly put his hand down the trousers of one child while sitting him on his knee.
One complainant, now aged in his 60s, told the trial that the accused called him up to the top of the class and then put his hand down his trousers and fondled his genitals. He said Harte had previously physically assaulted him.
The trial, which began last week, heard that Harte strenuously denied the allegations. He told gardaí that the classroom was a busy place with other teachers and an inspector coming in and out.
He said by reason of this level of activity it would have been foolhardy to carry out any of the alleged actions.
Judge Martin Nolan thanked the jurors for doing their civic duty in what he said was a difficult case.
“This was not an easy matter. The court needs you. You've taken your time and behaved in a very responsible way. You've done your duty,” he told jurors.
Ms Rowland told the court that in light of the current situation, the DPP had no objection to Harte being remanded on continuing bail. Judge Nolan remanded him to appear for sentence on April 27.
He told counsel that if there was a difficulty on that date, the case could be rescheduled.