Paedophile principal like a ‘vicious wolf lying in wait for pupils’
At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, the now middle-aged woman described the terror of having to go to Moyasta NS as a little girl.
In a victim impact statement, she told the court: “I was a little girl who came from a loving home where I was cherished by my parents and he was the vicious wolf lying in wait for me every day to take complete advantage of my innocence. Let me tell you, we were all very innocent back then.
“What he did to me and all those other girls was reprehensible.”
She said that Barry “terrorised and molested me daily for years. He taught me nothing in his class.”
Last July, a jury found Barry (80) of Well Road, Kilkee, guilty on 59 counts of indecent assault against 11 primary schoolgirls over a 21 year period from 1964 and 1985 at the two-teacher Moyasta school in west Clare.
However, at the sentencing hearing yesterday, there was no apology from Mr Barry through his counsel to the victims.
During the hearing, Barry sat impassive in the dock as his former pupils outlined the impact his abuse had on them.
The abuser was allowed to return to his home in Kilkee yesterday after Judge Gerald Keyes further remanded him on bail for a later date to be sentenced.
Earlier in court. the victim impact statements of eight of the victims were read out to court with four reading their own statements.
One of the victims said her own children subsequently attended Moyasta NS.
She said: “When they ask about my time at the school, I could never explain what went on in the senior room. I would never have wanted my children to know that such degradation would have impacted on their mother and aunties.”
She said that the children at the school faced “fear, terror and humiliation” from Barry.
She said that “this man took full advantage of his position of power and endeared himself into the lives of our parents and continued his actions in the class room knowing that these children were unlikely to be believed”.
Another victim stated that Barry’s “assaults on me took away my childhood, my innocence and my trust in adults at a very young age”.
Counsel for Barry, Roderick O’Hanlon SC, said that his client had no previous convictions and at the age of 80 suffered from severe medical conditions.
Mr O’Hanlon read out a number of testimonials in court including one from an Ennis-based protestant clergyman, Canon Bob Hanna.
In his testimonial, Canon Hanna said he had known Padraig de Barra for 20 years.
He said: “The dilemma and tragedy surrounding his life and the current conviction would have been inconceivable a few years back. Literally, Padraig de Barra would have been the last person one would have thought to be involved in any act that would hurt or offend a child.
He said: “The image presented by the conviction seems such a shocking aberration from the generally held picture of a genial, courteous and fulfilled and happily retired professional man.” Canon Hanna said he never “saw anything other than a spiritual man using his talents in the interests of his church and his community”.