Gerald Barry was today facing a life sentence for the second time this year. He is already serving a mandatory life sentence for the murder of Swiss student Manuela Riedo in Galway in September 2007.
Today we heard, in chilling detail, how just eight weeks previously he had brutally raped a 21-year-old French student. There were haunting similarities between the two attacks and the graphic account given by the first victim must to some extent mirrored how Manuela spent her final hours.
The victim of the rape, a few years older than the Swiss girl, had been out with friends that night. At the end of the night, not being able to find a taxi, she decided to walk home. As she was walking through the Mervue area of Galway she passed a man. A few steps later she realised he was following her.
Barry grabbed her by her hair and pressed something she thought was a knife to her throat. Then he dragged her into the grounds of a local GAA club and subjected her to a horrific rape.
He repeatedly both orally and anally raped her while he threatened to kill her if she tried to escape. During the attack he also asked her if she was enjoying it. After the final anal rape he saw that she was bleeding and told her “Hey, you’re bleeding. Great.”
In a victim impact statement read to the court the student, who was not present in court, said she was still coming to terms with what had happened to her. She said that she was receiving counselling but could only get as far as the moment Barry had grabbed her because the memory of the rape itself was still too painful.
She called Barry a predator, “He is not a human or a man. He is a liar, a rapist and a murderer. I beg you not to let him out because he will do it again.” The woman said that she still felt very insecure whenever anyone came up behind her or touched her back or her neck.
She told gardai that she could not work out why she was still alive, why Barry hadn’t killed her as he would later kill Manuela. “I am surprised that I am still alive. Why was I let go? Why I am still breathing?”
The woman also criticised media coverage of her ordeal. She said “It happened to me, not to them” and said that the media did not understand the harm they did to others. I’ve noticed that line has not been widely reported by my colleagues. We don’t listen to these details or write them up for some kind of gratuitous entertainment. The public have the right to know that animals like Barry walk around and do harm to people. If we gloss over the details of their crimes we absolve them of the full horror of their actions.
Barry is undoubtedly a menace to society. If people don’t know what he is capable of then they might not see quite how much of a menace he actually is.
Less than two months after he had raped the now 23-year-old woman he was to murder Manuela Riedo. Then he would also have been visiting an ex girlfriend. He would also make a pretense that the encounter was consensual, although in Manuela’s case he said this to gardai – we will never know if he aid as much to his victim.
Gardai were still investigating the rape when Manuela took her final walk home. The rest is tragically known.
Judge Paul Carney has asked whether he has the option of imposing a life sentence, the very highest sentence allowable for the very worst kind of rape. He will pass his sentence on Friday in Galway. It remains to be seen just how severe a sentence he hands down.