Former scout leader (72) jailed for five years for sexual assault

David Barry plied teenage victims with alcohol before sexually assaulting them, court hears

A 72-year-old former scout commissioner, who plied 10 teenage scouts with drink from a private bar at his home and showed them pornography before sexually assaulting them, has been jailed for five years.

David Barry from Montrose, Firgrove Crescent, Bishopstown in Cork previously pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a total of 29 separate indecent or sexual assault charges on the boys between 1986 and 2008.

On Thursday, Det Garda Gary Duggan of Bishopstown Garda Station told the court how the boys were all abused by Barry at various dates in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s after they joined the Togher Scouting Group, the 37th Cork troop.

The abuse happened in Barry’s home in Bishopstown when the boys, who were aged 13 to 16, would stay over and, in some cases, he plied them with alcohol and showed them pornography on television before sexually assaulting them.


The abuses consisted of Barry coming up to the boys either when they were in bed or sitting beside him on a sofa at his home and fondling them while he also abused one boy in a shower.

Det Garda Duggan said that Barry joined the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland at the age of seven and he rose up the ranks, eventually becoming Scout Commissioner for Cork where he had responsibility for all scouts in Cork

A native of Glasheen on Cork's southside, he moved to Bishopstown in 1972 and married in 1980 but later separated from his wife when she moved out of their home with their children while Barry was away on a scouting weekend.

This provided Barry with a large vacant house with six bedrooms which he utilised to have scouts stay over. He also installed a fully functioning bar in his sitting room where he plied boys with the drink before abusing them.

Det Garda Duggan said a complaint was made by a scout’s mother in 1987 in relation to an incident at Barry’s house and he was directed by the Unit Council at Togher Scouts to stop holding activities at his house but this did not happen.

He said Barry, during his time in scouting received special counselling from Scouting Ireland on four separate occasions - twice in March 2010, once in March 2017 and once in April 2019.

He said that Barry, who ran a well known photography business on Pembroke Street in Cork city, was on the board of Bishopstown Credit Union for 25 years while he was also a Peace Commissioner for Cork city.

“David Barry had the perfect cover story for parents who entrusted their teenage sons into his care - he was a successful businessman, a father whose wife had left him, a church-going Catholic and a Peace Commissioner.”

Defence counsel, Tom Creed SC pleaded for leniency, saying that Barry had spared his victims the trauma of a trial with his early guilty plea and he also pointed out that he had no previous convictions of any kind.

He also pointed that Barry had poor health, suffering from a cardiac condition, which led to a heart attack in 2015, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes while a psychological report showed he was at a low risk of re-offending.

Mr Creed also pointed out that Barry had never used violence or threats of violence against his victims and he submitted that the offending was at the lower end of the scale for sexual abuse offences.

Strongly disagreed

However, Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin said he strongly disagreed with Mr Creed on this last point as the abuse involved a huge breach of trust when he sexually assaulted boys who were in his care both as a scout leader and as an adult.

He also noted that Barry had been highly manipulative and deliberate in the abuse, in some cases plying his victims with alcohol and showing them pornography before abusing them.

“He knew full well what he was doing - there was a significant breach of trust here and a serious misuse of his position as a scout leader and as an adult - he breached every concept of care and trust to in effect prey on his victims.”

He acknowledged that Barry’s guilty plea was a mitigating factor in that it was a public affirmation that he was the wrongdoer who had wronged his victims who were all innocent teenagers entrusted into his care.

However, given the aggravating factors including the number of victims and the fact the abuse went over for over 20 years, the appropriate sentence for Barry was one of seven years with two suspended because of his guilty plea, he said.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times