An elderly former school teacher convicted of fondling Dublin school boys five decades ago has lost his bid to have his sentence delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Patrick Harte, aged 78, was due to be sentenced in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today. He was convicted of indecently assaulting seven primary schoolboys at Synge Street, Dublin between September 1968 and September 1970 following a trial last March.
Harte, who is on bail, did not appear in court for his sentence hearing. Defence barrister, Patrick Gageby SC, instead handed up medical documents on behalf of his client.
The court heard Harte suffers from a number of medical conditions, including diabetes and chronic heart disease. He is following current HSE guidelines for people over 70 and avoiding crowded places as much as possible.
Mr Gageby submitted his client should not be compelled to attend court, given the current situation. He noted that there were quite a number of people present in the court complex. He asked that the sentence be adjourned for two months.
Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, opposed the application. She said five of Harte's seven victims had attended court today and wished to read out their victim impact statements.
“This is a case in which the interest of justice would be served by some finality at this stage,” she said, noting the offences date back to the 1960s.
Ms Rowland said the injured parties would be willing to stay outside the court for the duration of the sentence hearing and come in one by one to read their victim impact statements.
Judge Martin Nolan noted Harte's health is currently stable, but that his medical conditions render him vulnerable to coronavirus. “If he gets Covid, it will be very serious for him,” Judge Nolan said.
However, the judge noted, “The virus will be with us for a considerable period of time”, and that Harte must be sentenced for his crimes.
He adjourned the case to tomorrow and listed the sentence hearing to take place out of hours at 4pm, when the building will be relatively empty.
Harte, of Glendown Park, Templeogue, Dublin, was found guilty of 11 counts of indecent assault of seven complainants at the Sancta Maria Christian Brothers primary school on Synge Street, Dublin.
The trial heard the defendant was a teacher at the primary school in the late 60s when the complainants were aged around 10.
The trial heard the accused would fondle some of the boys after calling them to the top of the class.
Harte strenuously denied the allegations.