“Do you believe in God?” the gardai asked Gerald Barry when they interviewed him on suspicion of killing Swiss teenager Manuela Riedo.
“I do believe in God”, he answered them. “I believe there is something there.” Barry, with an address at Rosan Glas, Renmore in Galway, denies killing Manuela on wasteground near Lough Atalia, Galway in early October 2007. It’s a strange question to hear read out in court, one that jars with the meticulous logic of the proceedings. But this is a case that has inflamed emotions so perhaps not so surprising after all.
Manuela Riedo’s semi naked body was found in bushes a short distance from a well known shortcut between Renmore and Galway city. A used condom was found hanging on a bush beside her and her clothes were scattered around the clearing where her body lay.
Barry was being interviewed after his arrest some ten days after the death. Gardai had arrived at the flat he shared with his sister and arrested him early that morning. A search of the place discovered Manuela’s digital camera under the mattress of a bed in a room that Barry admitted using. At the start of the trial he pleaded guilty to stealing both the camera and a mobile phone belonging to the Swiss girl. When he spoke to gardai that day in October 2007 he told them he had never seen the camera before or any like it. He had only ever known disposable cameras, he said.
He told gardai that the room where the camera was found was used by the many different people, the flat was often filled with visitors some of whom he didn’t even know. On the day of the killing he said he remembered a red haired man and a dark haired man, neither of whom he knew. The red haired man was from Spiddal, he thought. The other was probably a traveller, “he had that way about him.”
Barry told gardai that he had spent most of October 8th, the day Manuela disappeared, in bed. He had got up in the late afternoon and spent several hours driving around with his brother-in-law and his brother. He hadn’t been near Galway city at all, he told gardai. He didn’t know any Swiss girl and he hadn’t been near Lough Atalia since the last time he visited his mother in Mervue, three weeks previously.
They eventually went back to his brother-in-law’s house and watched TV. “Banged Up Abroad” was on, a fact agreed by both brother and brother-in-law when they took the stand today. Their account of the night was somewhat different though.
Dennis Ward, the brother-in-law, explained that he had been driving around with Kevin Barry, Gerald’s brother, when they received a phonecall from Gerald. He asked to be picked up in town, at the Supermacs in Shop Street. They drove to the appointed place and waited. Barry arrived soon after, wearing a red jacket and carrying a plastic bag. It was raining and the jacket was wet.
The red jacket and plastic bag made several appearances today. First grainy CCTV stills shown on the courtroom’s twin screens show a figure walking towards Shop Street, wearing what was identified as a three quarter length red coat and a black baseball cap. In his right hand was a white blob which may have been a white plastic bag. The time was 8.27p.m. on October 8th.
Mobile phone records showed a call from Barry’s Meteor phone to Dennis Ward at 8.20. The call was routed through the mobile phone cell at Lough Atalia, an hour previously another call had been routed through the same cell, this one to the mother of one of his children. She told the court today that she couldn’t remember receiving a call, her phone had been ringing but she hadn’t picked up.
Barry tried to reach her several more times that evening, sending her texts at 10.10 and again at 11.
The trial will be continuing tomorrow.
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