Limerick man jailed after being found with vulnerable girl and box of viagra tablets

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Ennis courthouse
Ennis Courthouse

A LIMERICK man, who was found by Gardaí in his car late at night in a secluded location with a vulnerable 15 year-old-girl and a box of viagra tablets, has been jailed for 11 months.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Francis Comerford imposed a 20 month prison term on Pat Barry (65) of Garryglass Avenue, Rossbrien after he pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of the Limerick teenager in the early hours of August 23, 2017.

The final nine months of the sentence were suspended.

Judge Comerford said that Mr Barry, who turns 66 this week, had benefited from good policing on the scene that prevented what occurred on the night from becoming even more serious.

Mr Barry had driven the teenager, who has an intellectual disability, to a secluded car-park at McNamara Lake, O’Briensbridge in south east Clare.

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Garda Áine Troy said that while on mobile patrol, she and colleagues went to investigate the parked car and became concerned at the vast age difference of the two occupants. Their concerns were heightened when Mr Barry said that he was not related to the girl.

A box of Viagra tablets  was found in the glove compartment while a colleague, Sgt Aiden Lonergan, “observed a blatant bulge in the groin area of Mr Barry’s trousers which he said was a hernia problem”.

While being brought home later that night, the “very nervous” teenager made a complaint of sexual assault against Mr Barry, who was 60 at the time.

Garda Troy said that in the days leading up to the incident, Mr Barry had bought the teenager cigarettes and brought her for drives.

She agreed with Prosecuting Counsel Lorcan Connolly that the girl “had troubles in her life” and sometime after this incident was placed into voluntary foster care.

In two Garda interviews, Mr Barry denied sexually assaulting the teenage girl before entering his guilty plea at Ennis Circuit Court.

In her victim impact statement the girl, who is now 20, said: “What he did to me was wrong and I am very angry about it. I never want to see him again.”

Garda Troy said that Mr Barry, who has no previous convictions, is a retired stable-hand who worked at a number of different yards. He never married and lives alone.

Judge Comerford said that Mr Barry had touched a vulnerable teenager intimately without her consent. It was a serious offence but he couldn’t sentence Mr Barry for something that didn’t occur.

“I can’t say that there was an intent to do more than the act that took place. That would be speculative. There is no evidence of a viagra tablet being taken out of the packet.”

He said that Mr Barry did give an explanation at the scene for the bulge in his trousers that was consistent with his health condition. There was no question of violence or force or threats being used and it was a single count of sexual assault.

He added that the offence was of short duration “due perhaps to Garda intervention”.