Cork scout leader had the 'perfect cover story' as he sexually assaulted boys

Cork scout leader had the 'perfect cover story' as he sexually assaulted boys

David Barry leaves Cork Court at an earlier court appearance. Pic: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

RETIRED Cork businessman and former scout leader David Barry operated under “the perfect cover story” of respectability as he sexually assaulted boy scouts at his home in Bishopstown for years and now he is commencing a five-year prison term.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed the sentence of seven years with the last two years suspended on 73-year-old David Barry, of Firgrove Gardens, Bishopstown, Cork, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

He admitted all 29 charges against him. 28 were for indecent or sexual assaults and one was for attempted sexual assault.

Detective Garda Gary Duggan said the ten victims were aged between 13 and 17 when the sexual abuse of them occurred on overnights at the defendant’s home in Bishopstown between 1986 and 2008. Nine of the boys were sexually assaulted. For a tenth boy it was an attempted sexual assault.

The detective said that in several cases the boys were given alcohol. David Barry had a bar at his own home which was known as an attraction for the teenaged boys who visited. The evidence was that he showed some of them videos of German pornography.

Detective Garda Duggan said, “He had the perfect cover story for parents – a successful businessman, church-going Catholic, Peace Commissioner.” 

The detective said that as long ago as 1987 a scout’s mother complained about an incident at the defendant’s house and after this he was directed by the Unit Council of Togher Scouts to stop holding scout activities at his house but he continued to do so.

“During his time in scouting, David Barry received special counselling from Scouting Ireland on four occasions – twice in March 2010 and again in March 2017 and April 2019,” Det. Garda Duggan said.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “Aggravating factors include the number of victims, the nature of the offences, the fact that they continued over a prolonged period and the fact that he used his home to inveigle the teens to his house and while there he supplied some of them with alcohol when he knew they were well under the age, and on a limited number of occasions he exposed them to porn.

“The alcohol and the porn was done to get them more available to him for his actions. He was an adult. They were children aged 13 to 17. He was very much the leader – the adult – and they were the children. They were in his care and in all of these offences there were significant breaches of trust and very serious misuse of his position as an adult or scout leader.

“These children were in his care - supervising them - and he breached every concept of care or trust possible.

“He preyed upon these children and abused them over a period of years.

“In relation to his plea of guilty his plea is confirmation that they did nothing wrong – the wrongdoer here at all stages was David Barry. This is a public recognition by David Barry that he was wrong. He wronged them. They did nothing wrong. They have nothing to be ashamed of.” 

 Defence senior counsel Tom Creed said David Barry’s plea of guilty was the strongest sign of his remorse. He outlined the defendant’s health and psychological problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, cardiac issues, sleeplessness and becoming increasingly reclusive.

Mr Creed SC put the offending at the lower end of the scale for sexual offences coming before the courts and said, “These were young adolescents rather than pre-pubescent children.” 

Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “I don’t agree with Mr Creed that these were at the lower end of sexual assaults – I think it is much higher than that.” The judge acknowledged the plea of guilty was also of benefit to the injured parties in not having to give evidence.

All of the victims thanked Detective Garda Gary Duggan for his support and professionalism and Detective Garda Maurice Shanley was thanked in similar terms.

Det. Garda Duggan testified at the sentencing hearing that the first complaint was made in 2018 and that following on from this nine more complainants came forward to say David Barry had sexually assaulted them when he was scout leader and they were boy scouts.

David Barry joined the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland at the age of 8 and rose to become Scout Commissioner for Cork for a period of six years. He was known as “Mr Togher Scouts”. When he married in 1980 he moved to Bishopstown but his marriage broke down in the mid-1980s and his wife left. He had a large vacant house in Bishopstown with six bedrooms which he set up with bunk beds for scouts to stay.

“He installed a fully working bar in his sitting room,” Det. Garda Duggan said.

In many of the incidents of sexual assault, the nature of the offence was similar. The detective said the defendant would arrived in the boy’s bedroom, sit down on the side of the bed, put his hand under the bedclothes and inside the boy’s underwear and fondle the child’s penis.

On some occasion, David Barry was only wearing an underpants when this was occurring.

“In another incident in David Barry’s bedroom he stripped himself and the injured party naked and showed him how to prevent hypothermia, rubbing (the boy’s) arms and legs and rubbing his penis,” Det. Garda Duggan said.

Another injured party told gardaí the house was known as a place where you could get alcohol. He was given cider by David Barry who put a VHS video of German pornography on the television and rubbed the teenager’s leg when he sat beside him.

Another boy described being masturbated by David Barry when he came into his bedroom at night.

In the charge related to attempted sexual assaulted, the boy recalled sharing a bed with another scout and the accused. Having heard stories from other boys he put an extremely tight knot on shorts he was wearing in bed and said that David Barry tried unsuccessfully to open it during the night. He recalled the defendant saying to him in the bed, “Ah (name).” Finally, the tenth boy – in respect of whom evidence was given – recalled the defendant wearing his underpants and getting into bed with him and wrapping himself around him: “He kept saying, ‘Ok, ok, ok.’” 

Prosecution barrister Donal O’Sullivan said the boys were aged 13 to 17 and the accused was aged 40 to 60 at the relevant times.

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