‘I felt physically sick thinking I could lose my remaining son’: Mother of Cameron Blair describes impact of threats 

‘I felt physically sick thinking I could lose my remaining son’: Mother of Cameron Blair describes impact of threats 

The murder of student Cameron Blair occurred on January 16, 2020. 

THE mother of Cameron Blair, the student who was murdered by a teenager in Cork city in January last year, described the death threats the family received several months later as “cruelty beyond belief”.

A 46-year-old man was jailed for two years for phoning the family of Cameron Blair and making the death threats.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin yesterday imposed a sentence of three years with the last year suspended on Noel Barry of Cherry Tree Rd, Togher, Cork, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Noel Barry from Cherry Tree Road, Togher, Cork. 
Noel Barry from Cherry Tree Road, Togher, Cork. 

Detective Inspector Daniel Coholan testified that just before 11pm on the night of September 4, 2020,

Barry rang Noel Blair in a call that lasted 44 seconds in which he said: “You better be standing beside your wife and other son with a fire extinguisher. They will be burned at the petrol station. Your family will never be safe for 13 years.”

The caller went on to say that a loyalist should not threaten a republican.

Family distressed and frightened 

The detective inspector said the Blair family were distressed and extremely frightened — too frightened to go to bed that night.

“A detective sergeant and two detective gardaí travelled from Cork City to the Blair family home in West Cork and stayed with them for a period of time reassuring them and taking statements,” Det Insp Coholan said.

The phone was registered to Noel Barry. Not alone did he at first deny making the threat but he complained to Detective Garda Pat Connery that he was the one who was threatened by Noel Blair. The detective inspector said there was no truth in this. Noel Barry later withdrew this allegation which was without foundation.

When Barry’s phone was given to gardaí, it had been wiped clear of its call history.

Impact on grieving family 

Kathy Blair read a victim statement in court which she attended with her husband, Noel, and her son, Alan.

Mrs Blair said, “On Friday, September 4, 2020, my husband received a call on his mobile from Noel Barry. On that awful night we had to listen to appalling threats being made against our family. The content of the call was deeply upsetting. We were in a state of shock. 

"I have never felt afraid in my own home but that night I was terrified. Even now I can’t be alone in the house at night.

“What Noel Barry subjected us to was cruelty beyond belief.

“On that call, he said we would need a fire extinguisher as he was going to destroy our son, Alan. Alan heard this threat as the three of us were standing listening to the call in the kitchen.

“I thought I was going to collapse and felt physically sick thinking I could lose my remaining son. As a mother, I felt like a failure for not being to protect my child against such horror. 

"I often lie awake at night and vividly remember that call. It is impossible to unhear what Noel Barry said. How could you?”

The judge said, “This is a case which is almost incomprehensible. To contact this family who had already suffered inexcusable grief and huge trauma to their lives.

“To contact these distraught people was calculated to cause maximum grief.

“But on top of that contact, the threats bring it into the level of the almost incomprehensible. What was going on in his head? He did what he did to cause maximum damage to vulnerable people.”

The judge said Det Insp Coholan’s evidence was impressive and insightful, outlining the way in which the accused prevaricated — “dancing from foot to foot” — and avoided responsibility until he eventually pleaded guilty.

Sinead Behan, defending, said Barry had a longstanding drinking problem. She said on his behalf that the Blair family had suffered enough and he was sorry for what he did.

The murder of student Cameron Blair occurred on January 16, 2020 when he was fatally stabbed at a house party on Bandon Rd. A teenager pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a review of sentence in November 2032.

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