Man jailed for making threats to family of murdered student Cameron Blair

Judge says Noel Barry’s actions aimed to cause maximum pain to a grieving family

Noel Barry, from Cherry Tree Road, Togher, was sentenced to three years in jail with the  final year suspended. He was ordered to have no contact with the Blair family for five years.

Noel Barry, from Cherry Tree Road, Togher, was sentenced to three years in jail with the final year suspended. He was ordered to have no contact with the Blair family for five years.

 

The mother of a murdered Cork Institute of Technology student has told of her horror after a man rang her husband and threatened to kill her family including her sole surviving son.

Kathy Blair outlined the affect that the phone call from Noel Barry (46) had on her and her husband Noel and their son, Alan just months after a teenager was jailed for the murder of their eldest son, Cameron (20).

“On Friday September 4th, 2020, my husband received a call on his mobile from Noel Barry .... on that awful night we had to listen to appalling threats made against our family. The content of the call was deeply upsetting,” she said.

“We were all in a state of shock. I have never felt afraid in my own home but that night I was terrified. Even now I can’t be alone in the house at night. What Noel Barry subjected us to was cruelty beyond belief.”

Ms Blair recalled in her Victim Impact Statement, which she delivered at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday, how Barry had told them that they would need a fire extinguisher as he was “going to destroy our son, Alan”.

“Alan heard this threat as the three of us were standing listening to the call in the kitchen, I thought I was going to collapse and felt physically sick, thinking I could lose my remaining son,” said Ms Blair, who is from Ballinascarthy.

“As a mother, I felt like a failure for not be being able to protect my child against such horror. I often lie awake at night and vividly remember that call. It is impossible to unhear what Noel Barry said. How could you?”

Barry, from Cherry Tree Road, Togher, pleaded guilty to two counts of making threats to Noel Blair in a phone call to cause serious harm to Kathy Blair and Alan Blair and a third count of sending a menacing message by telephone.

Searched online

Det Insp Danny Coholan told how Barry had searched online to find a mobile number for Mr Blair and just before 11pm on September 4th, 2020, he phoned Mr Blair and made threats in the course of a 44 second call.

Barry had contacted Togher Garda station an hour earlier to make a complaint that Mr Blair had threatened him. He had said he was in Youghal but sounded intoxicated and erratic.

Barry arranged to come into the station the next day to pursue his complaint against Mr Blair but he was instead arrested for questioning about his threats to the Blair family. He denied making any threats but admitted the phone number was his and suggested somebody else could have used the phone to make the threats.

A member of the Barry family handed over his phone the next day and gardaí established that it had been wiped clean of all records of phone calls so a forensic phone examiner could not retrieve call logs.

About a fortnight later, Barry attended Togher station and withdrew his complaint about Mr Blair threatening him. He acknowledged making calls that he should not have made to Mr Blair but said he had drink taken.

Sinéad Behan BL, for Barry, said her client had written a letter of apology to the Blairs and he was deeply remorseful for his actions. She pointed out that he had a long standing drink problem that had never been addressed.

‘Almost incomprehensible’

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said Barry should be given credit for his plea and sparing the Blairs the trauma of a trial, but after that there was little to commend him on as his actions were “almost incomprehensible”.

“To contact this family who had already suffered huge trauma to their lives with the murder of their beloved son, to contact these distraught people about this murder was to cause the maximum pain to vulnerable people.”

He questioned Barry’s remorse and noted that the accused had researched his crime by obtaining Mr Blair’s mobile number. He said he believed it was “a crime that had no purpose other than the causing of calculated cruelty”.

The judge sentenced Barry to three years in jail but suspended the final year on condition that he remains under the supervision of the Probation Service and he ordered him to have no contact with the Blairs for five years.

An 18-year-old, who cannot be named because he was a juvenile at the time of the offence, is currently serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to murdering Cameron Blair on Bandon Road in Cork on January 16th, 2019.