*Judge Comerford said the man benefited from good policing on the scene. 

A 65 YEAR OLD Limerick man who was found by Gardai 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 suspending the final nine months on Pat Barry of Garryglass Avenue, Rossbrien, Limerick after he pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of the Limerick teenager in the early hours of August 23rd 2017.

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

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

In evidence, 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 of the car and their concerns were heightened when Mr Barry said that he was not related to the girl.

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

The “very nervous” teenager later that night while being brought home made a complaint of sexual assault to Gardai 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.

Garda Troy agreed with counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL that the girl has “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 – 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 and has never married and lives alone at his Limerick address.

In sentencing Mr Barry, Judge Comerford said that Mr Barry had touched a vulnerable teenager intimately without her consent.

Judge Comerford said that it was a serious offence but that he couldn’t sentence Mr Barry for something that didn’t occur.

The judge said, “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 taking out of the packet”.

Judge Comerford said that Mr Barry did give an explanation at the scene for the bulge in his trousers that was consistent with his health condition.

Judge Comerford said that there was no question of violence or force or threats being used and it was a single count of sexual assault.

The judge said that the offence was of short duration “due perhaps to Garda intervention”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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