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28 May 2022

Man jailed for abusing teenager has conviction upheld

Man jailed for abusing teenage has conviction upheld

Donegal man jailed for abusing teenager has conviction upheld

A pensioner jailed for abusing a teenage boy 30 years ago has lost an appeal against his conviction. 

John Barrow (74), with an address in Crolly, County Donegal, had denied six counts of indecently assaulting the then 14-year-old boy in the county between August 1989 and September 1990. 

Donegal Circuit Criminal Court heard that Barrow and the boy had an interest in a particular past-time, and the abuse was alleged to have occurred after they had engaged in this hobby together. 

Barrow was found guilty by a jury and was sentenced to six years imprisonment with the final two years suspended by Judge Cormac Quinn on June 19, 2017. 

His conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, with the three-judge court holding that the trial judge was entitled to leave the case go to the jury, notwithstanding objections from the defence. 

Giving judgment, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the issues raised in the trial were quintessentially matters for the jury. 

It was true, Mr Justice Birmingham said, that the complainant was “saying inconsistent things” about the time at which the offences occurred, saying, on the one hand, that the offending took place when he was in sixth class but, on the other hand, saying he was 14-years-old at the time of the abuse. 

However, the complainant “never resiled from his core complaint” and there was other evidence that supported his own evidence. 

Mr Justice Birmingham said the complainant was able to describe the layout of Barrow’s home, where the abuse was said to have occurred, and had retained a novel which Barrow had given him. 

There was further evidence related to the past-time in which they shared an interest. 

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Mr Justice Brian Murray, said the court was in “no doubt” that the trial judge was entitled to leave the case go to the jury and the appeal was therefore dismissed. 

Counsel for Barrow, Fiona Murphy SC, told the three-judge court that her client ought to have been granted a directed acquittal due to a fundamental inconsistency in the prosecution’s case. 

Ms Murphy said the offences were alleged to have been committed when the boy was in sixth class, but it was established that the boy was in sixth class from September 1986 to the summer of 1987, two years before the scope of the indictment. 

It was an inconsistency of such “magnitude”, there was no way to wedge it into the dates outlined in the indictment, she submitted. 

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Patricia McLaughlin BL, said there was sufficient evidence for the jury to rely upon in establishing reliability and credibility. She said it would have been “extraordinary” for the trial judge to have withdrawn the case from the jury. 

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