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Man found in car with vulnerable girl, 15, and box of Viagra

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A 65-YEAR-OLD man who was found by gardaí late at night in his car in a secluded rural location in Clare with a vulnerable 15-year-old girl and a box of Viagra tablets has been sentenced to 11 months in prison.

At Ennis circuit court, Judge Francis Comerford said it was “praiseworthy that gardaí were able to intervene” in the incident that took place at McNamara’s lake, O’Briensbridge in the early hours of August 23, 2017.

Details of the incident were heard at the sentencing hearing of Pat Barry (65).

Barry, a retired stable hand with an address at Garryglass Avenue, Rosbrien, Limerick, pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual assault.

Judge Francis Comerford imposed a 20-month prison sentence with the final nine months suspended for what he called a “sexual assault, without consent, on a vulnerable young child”.

Garda Áine Troy told prosecuting counsel, Lorcan Connolly BL she had two other colleagues were on patrol on the date in question when they observed a car parked at McNamara’s lake near O’Briensbridge at around 00.25am.

Garda Troy said, two people, Pat Barry, who was 60 at the time, and a teenage girl were in the car.

She said there were concerns due to the age difference between the parties and after Barry said they were not related.

Garda Troy said a box of Viagra tablets were visible in the front of the vehicle.

The garda told the court  her colleague, Sergeant Aiden Lonergan, said a “blatant bulge” was noticeable in Barry’s trousers. Barry told gardaí the bulge was due to a hernia problem.

The court heard the area where the car was parked was not covered by lights or CCTV.

Garda Troy said the teenage girl was brought to the sexual assault treatment unit and due to her intellectual disability, was interviewed by specialist gardaí.

The court heard she alleged to gardaí that Barry touched her left breast and genital area.

The girl told gardaí she met the accused some weeks prior to the assault.

The court heard Barry bought her cigarettes and brought her on drives.

Barry was arrested in January 2018 and under caution denied any intimate touching of the girl.

Barry was re-arrested after DNA evidence taken from the girl’s underwear linked him to the offence.

Garda Troy said Barry made “no comment” after the DNA profile was put to him.

The court heard the teenage victim had a difficult upbringing and had been referred to Tusla and the mental health services.

Garda Troy said after the assault the girl “ended up on voluntary foster care”.

The garda said, “Her mother requested an intervention as her behaviour had become erratic.”

Garda Troy said the girl’s life has now “stabilised”.

Defence counsel Patrick Whyms BL told the court the background of the case was that his client had befriended a group of three young people that included the victim.

The court heard that the two other young people had declined the give statements to gardaí.

Garda Troy agreed with counsel that the girl had been referred to Tusla on a number of occasions.

Counsel said records provided by State agencies showed the girl had previously made “unfounded” allegations about males in the past.

Mr Whyms said “multiple recordings” by State agencies indicated the victim was, in the past, “a person not to be believed in relation to things she said”.

Counsel said this could have created a risk had the case gone before a jury.

Counsel said he highlighted issues in the victim’s past to show the value of his client’s guilty plea.

Counsel continued, “I’m not trying to attack the victim. Pat Barry has pleaded guilty. My point is that this would have been an extraordinarily difficult case.”

Counsel said his client is shunned by most members of his family and is in a position of “social ostracism”.

“Mr Barry’s life as he knew it, has come to an end, for various reasons.”

Counsel continued, “He is sorry. He wants to convey that. He is the adult in the room. What happened should not have happened.”

Judge Comerford said an aggravating factor in the case is that the victim is a vulnerable  person with intellectual and social disabilities.

He noted the accused’s previous god record, guilty plea and that the assault was a single incident that did not involve violence or threats.

Judge Comerford said he accepted that the raising of the victim’s past “was done so solely to indicate the value of the plea and not an attack on the injured party or the harshness of her life to date”.

Noting the seriousness of the offence, the judge imposed a 20-month sentence with the final nine months suspended.

About Ronan Judge

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