A former teacher who sexually abused a teenager he befriended in his local pitch and putt club has been jailed for eight years.
The now 46-year-old man waived his anonymity to allow for Patrick Bardon (54) of Erry, Clara, Co Offaly, to be named.
Bardon was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury sitting in Longford last June on 11 charges of oral rape of the man at his then home in Ferbane, Co Offaly, on dates between October 1992 and March 1994.
The court heard that Bardon first became friendly with the teenager at the pitch and putt club and later got to know his family, particularly his father. The abuse occurred in Bardon’s home when he introduced him to pornography and later orally raped the boy. The teenager was aged between 15 and 17 years old at the time.
A victim impact statement was read into the record by the investigating sergeant in which the man stated that he was waiving his anonymity to help other victims of sexual abuse to get the help and support they deserve.
He said the day he got justice last June following the jury’s verdict, a second elephant was lifted off his shoulder, the first elephant having been lifted the day he disclosed the abuse.
The man described himself “not as a victim but as a survivor”. He said the abuse had a profound impact on his life and he felt he had nothing to live for until the birth of his daughter, which he said put a smile on his face and gave him hope and love in his heart.
He said he had been living in a dark tunnel but he finally found the light when Bardon was convicted. He said the abuse affected his relationships, particularly that with his parents, and he only ever visits them so his daughter can see her grandparents. “I cannot wait until I get out of the place,” the man said referring to those visits.
The man said his sleep has been affected, he suffers flashback and nightmares and “throws up” when he thinks of the abuse.
“I now live in the future.” The man said Bardon took 31 years of his life but “I will not allow him to take a minute more”. He said Bardon did not “take my strength and courage”.
He said he is now “happy in the knowledge that justice has been served” before he added that he has to acknowledge that “I did not take this journey on my own” . He thanked his wife for her “unending support – she was my strength when I was weak”.
Bardon took the stand and told John Shortt SC defending that he was “so sorry that this ever happened”.
“It was absolutely dreadful. I want to apologise unreservedly. I am so sorry and disappointed in myself that it ever took place and it should never ever have taken a place,” he said.
Bardon continued: “He was a gentleman. His parents were lovely people. I cannot assess why it happened. It was not in my nature or personality. All I can do is pray for him. It never should have happened. I hope the rest of his life is better than those years. He should never have had to go through that.”
He agreed with Mr Shortt that he accepts “total responsibility now” and there is “no other person to blame”.
Mr Bardon said he is “absolutely” prepared to engage with ongoing treatment.
He said at the time the abuse was disclosed he was looking after his mother. His father had died of cancer and his younger sister later died too. He said it was a horrific time and agreed with Mr Shortt that this “impaired your rationalising and dealing with the complaints that had been made against you”.
Mr Bardon said he later developed a gambling addiction. He said when he lost his teaching job, it affected his life. He lived the life of a hermit.
“I believed in teaching as a vocation and when that was gone, that was me gone,” Mr Bardon said.
“I set out in life to help people and what happened should never ever have happened. I will pray for him. I have prayed for him that he will experience some degree of happiness in life. I would never have wanted anything bad to happen to him,” Mr Bardon continued.
Mr Shortt said his client had lived “a blameless and decent life as a teacher” and outlined his various health difficulties.
Mr Justice David Keane said he was grateful to the man for his “clear and powerful description” of the impact Bardon’s crimes had on him.
He said the aggravating factors included the significant abuse of trust as Bardon was both the then teenager’s teacher and an adult friend of his family. He said the offence involved grooming of the teenager and comprised a pattern of abuse over 18 months which caused “considerable harm”.
Mr Justice Keane said the offence warranted a headline sentence of 12 years. He said Bardon was not entitled to credit for a plea of guilty but accepted that he has now acknowledged that he abused the teenager and the judge said he is “prepared to accept that he is now genuinely remorseful”.
He imposed a sentence of 10 years in prison and suspended the final two years on strict conditions, including that he engages with the Probation Service for two years upon his ultimate release from prison and undergo any sexual offender treatment programme as recommended. He also said that Bardon must undergo two years post-release supervision.
By Sonya McLean
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