An 81-year-old former primary school principal from West Clare could leave prison by the middle of next year after the Court of Appeal reduced his six-year jail term reduced to just two years.
Patrick Barry, of Well Road, Kilkee, had pleaded not guilty to 67 charges of indecently assaulting 11 girls on dates between 1964 and 1985 while they attended Moyasta National School as pupils.
At Ennis Circuit Criminal Court on 19 November 2014, Judge Gerald Keyes imposed an 11-year sentence, one year for each of the 11 victims, with the last 5 years suspended.
Speaking on behalf of the Court of Appeal yesterday (Friday), Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the trial judge had erred in locating the gravity of the offending at the starting point of 11 years imprisonment.
Bearing in mind his age, health problems and the “significant contribution” he made to his community on retirement, Mr Justice Sheehan said the Court of Appeal would suspend the final three years of the five-year sentence which was to conclude on 20 May 2019.
Following his successful sentence appeal, Barry could now finish serving his newly imposed sentence next year (2016).
Commenting following the verdict, the One in Four organisation said there was a problem with inconsistent sentencing for abuse convictions across the country’s circuit courts.
Maeve Lewis, executive director told the Irish Examiner: “I can only imagine how those 11 women feel tonight. hey will have been delighted with his conviction, but going through the trial can be an ordeal for survivors of sexual abuse.”