Former Scout leader David Barry jailed for five years for abusing boy scouts

Former Scout Leader David Barry Jailed For Five Years For Abusing Boy Scouts
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed the sentence of seven years with the last two years suspended on 73-year-old David Barry (file photo above), of Cork, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
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Olivia Kelleher

A former scout leader in his 70s who installed bunk beds in his home where he abused boys who stayed overnight has been jailed for five years.

Retired Cork businessman and photographer David Barry (72) had a bar in place and gave underage boys from 13 to 17 alcohol following scouting activities.


Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Mr Barry of Montrose, Firgrove Gardens in Bishopstown, Cork used his social standing in the community as a respected businessman, scout leader and peace commissioner as a cover.

The well known retired photographer, who often helped out at a Santa's Grotto at Christmas, used his position with the scouts to abuse boys.

He pleaded guilty to 29 charges of sexually abusing boy scouts over two decades. The offences involved 28 charges of indecent or sexual assault and one of attempted sexual assault.


The case against Mr Barry involved ten complainants with the offences occurring at various dates from 1986 to 2008 when the defendant was the scout leader of the boys.


When he first was charged in December 2020 Mr Barry told Detective Garda Gary Duggan that he was “sorry for anyone I hurt”.

Det Garda Duggan said that the bulk of the offences occurred from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s, but some refers to dates as late as 2005 and 2008.

He told Judge Sean O'Donnabhain that all of the boys came in to contact with Mr Barry arising out of his role as a scout leader in the city. He would have the boys, who were aged between 13 and 17, stay overnight in his home following scouting activities. He had bunk beds in situ.

One complainant said that the bar was an attraction in the home and that Barry gave youths in the scout troop alcohol before abusing them.


Victim impact statements

Powerful victim impact statements were given by four men. A man in his 40s said that his teenage years “were robbed” arising out of the abuse he suffered.

“The first time I was abused was in his house. I can remember him giving us alcohol at a young age. He would bring us over to the house in a group and separate us to sleep in different rooms and then abuse us.

“He used his position of power and trust to groom us. It was something we never discussed as a group as we were too young to know what was going on and embarrassed by what had happened to us.”

The man said that the abuse he suffered had impacted him in school, work and relationships. He urged anyone who has been abused to come forward and seek help.


Another man abused by Mr Barry said that he had lived a “blissful childhood” until he met Dave Barry. He said when Mr Barry started to abuse him he lived in a constant state of fear.

“Every time I tried to leave the scouts he manipulated the situation ensuring I stayed. There was one occasion where a family holiday clashed with a scouting trip. I was so relieved that I was going to avoid the scouting trip. But Dave Barry told my parents that I had confided in him that I wanted to go with the scouts.

“I will never forget the sheer terror of that time. Night after night of counting down the hours trying to stay awake, too afraid to fall asleep. Knowing that my family were away on holidays made things so much worse. “

The man said he had suffered a lifetime of anxiety and depression following the abuse.


“I have left jobs due to being too unwell to go to work. There was no way I could explain to anyone what was going on when I didn't understand myself.”

'Bad apple'

He said that whilst Mr Barry acted as a pillar of the community with his photography business he was a “bad apple in the community”.

Another man said that Mr Barry's “vile self gratification, lies and deceit” had a profound negative effect on the lives of his victims.

“For your own venal reasons you betrayed the trust of your friends, family and our society for your own perverse gratification.

“Your actions over the years are manifestly unforgivable and your manipulation of innocents shows cunning, forethought and a careful planned process.”

The court heard that when Mr Barry's marriage broke down in the 1980s he lived in a large vacant home with six bedrooms.

Det Garda Duggan said that Mr Barry was a “church going” peace commissioner on the board of a credit union and that he used his status in society as a “perfect cover” for his abuse of teenage boys.

Barrister Tom Creed, SC, representing Mr Barry made an appeal for leniency given the age and ill health of the defendant who has a chronic cardiac condition and arthritis. He said that the guilty plea meant that the victims in the case did not have to go through the trial process.

He added that his client was genuinely remorseful and suffered from sleepless nights, anxiety and depression.

Judge O'Donnabhain jailed Mr Barry for seven years suspending the last two years of the sentence. He said that Barry had committed a signficant breach of trust by abusing boys in his care.

“He preyed on these children. The victims speak truthfully and what they say is powerful and personal. There are real effects and lasting hurt and damage. He supplied some of them with alcohol and exposed them to porn. He was the leader -- the adult, and they were in his care.”

Mr Barry once reached the rank of Regional Cork Commissioner in the now defunct Catholic Boys Scouts of Ireland.

Scouting Ireland

Scouting Ireland welcomed the successful conviction and prosecution of Mr Barry and commended the survivors for their bravery.

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“We deeply regret the abuse of any child while engaged in scouting. Scouting Ireland has a strong co-operative relationship with the statutory agencies concerned with childcare, including An Garda Síochána and Tusla.

“Disclosures made to Scouting Ireland are reported to the Gardai and Tusla and we encourage anyone who has information or who has been the victim of abuse while in scouting to come forward to the authorities.

“We can assure our members, parents, and the wider public, that Scouting Ireland has a policy of full disclosure of any and all information in its possession relating to any child protection case, and we work closely with these agencies to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and that young people are safeguarded.”

The Scouting Ireland Helpline is open Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.00pm. Freephone 1800 221199 (ROI) and 0044 808 2345399 (NI).

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