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Tag: Gerald Barry (Page 3 of 3)

Post Mortem

The court listened quietly as the Chief State Pathologist Marie Cassidy ran through her findings.  What emerged was a disturbing picture of Manuela Riedo’s last hours or minutes.

The 17-year-old’s mud stained, semi-naked body was found dumped in bushes near a desolate shortcut into Galway City from Renmore where she was staying for the two weeks she was to be in Ireland.  She had died from asphyxiation, most probably from an arm pressed against her throat, so hard it had left an impression of the thin gold chain she wore with it’s two small crosses.

Martin Tierney, her host for her brief stay, told the court he had warned her not to take the short cut into town.  It cut through waste ground near the railway tracks and even in daylight was a desolate place.  It was safe enough to walk through in a group but it was wiser not to walk there alone, especially not at night.

Tragically Manuela didn’t take his advice.  The last time he saw her was when she stuck her head round the door of the living room, where he was watching television with his sons, to say she was heading out to meet friends in the King’s Head Pub in Galway city. That was the last time she was seen alive.

Her friend Azaria Maurer broke down into tears as she told the court she had been due to meet Manuela at the pub instead of meeting by the barracks that marked the beginning of the shortcut.  They had met here every time they had headed into town after learning about the short cut on their second day in Galway, the day before Manuela’s death.

Photographs taken from Manuela’s digital camera, which was found under the mattress of the accused’s bed, show the two girls smiling outside a traditional Irish pub.  The last photograph, taken on the day of her disappearance was of the classroom where she was supposed to be learning English.

She had spent that Monday in lessons before meeting up in the King’s Head with friends scattered around Galway’s other language schools.  She arrived home and had dinner at the Tierney house before making her fatal decision to take the short cut back into town.

The post mortem report always follows a set pattern, systematic and thorough.  It examines from the outside in and from the top of the head down to the soles of the feet.  Everything is looked at and all minor injuries and imperfections are noted.  It can be a bewildering litany of the scrapes and bumps we encounter as we move through the world  somewhere in the middle of which hide the grimmer facts of the case.

Manuela Riedo had a lot of superficial injuries.  Her body was covered in fresh bruises and scrapes, possibly caused as her body was dragged through the sharp undergrowth to the place her body was found.  Scenes of crimes officers described strands of dark blond hair snagged in the bushes from the upper path she would have taken down into the bushes.

There were four separate injuries to her head, consistent with slaps or punches.  Her father Hans-Peter wept, held tightly by her mother Arlette, as Professor Cassidy turned to the sexual injuries his daughter had received, scrapes to the vaginal area and the horrific “unusual injury” that lead to much cross-examination and reexamination.

This injury was the one that led to gruesome discussions of the relative features of animal bite marks and the work of a human wielding a knife.  When Manuela’s body was found a piece of skin 5 centimetres by seven was missing from her groin area.  It had been removed after she had died.  The top of the wound was perfectly smooth and inconsistent with the work of wild animals.  We were told in some detail about the difficulty of removing skin from an area with a natural crease.  It’s one of those things I really would rather be unaware of.

Her clothes had been discarded on the way to the clearing where her body was found.  Her outer clothing and her distinctive cherry covered bag were found closer to the pathway while her shoes and socks were placed near the body.  In the bushes nearby gardai found her underwear and a used condom snagged on a branch…it’s contents secured by a knot.

I’m not seeking to be sensational here.  I’m not being gratuitous.  These were the injuries she suffered and that her parents listened to as the post mortem evidence unfolded.  The details of a violent death are never pleasant.

An Abrupt End to a Young Life

Manuela Riedo’s half naked body was found on wasteland running by a railway line in Galway.  Items of clothing were hanging from trees around her and a coat was covering her upper body and face, with a stone holding it in place.

Not far from her body a condom was hanging from some bushes.  In today’s opening speech from the prosecution we heard that DNA from the accused, Gerald Barry was found on the inside of a condom while a mixed profile was found on the outside – belonging to him and the deceased girl.

A local artist, Sam Beardon, described his regular walk into work.  On October 9th he was taking the standard hike through some bushes to reach the path than runs beside the railway line near Lough Atalia.  Pushing his way through the bushes to climb the embankment he noticed a rucksack on the ground.  It hadn’t been there when he’d passed by on his way home the previous evening so he stopped to have a look.  That’s when he saw something pale in the bushes.  He realised quickly it was the body of a woman.  There was no sign of life.

Garda photographs handed to the jury showed a sad collection of human ephemera.  Various items of clothing hung from different trees including a grey pair of jeans similar to the ones her teacher Kimberly Kramer Bertshy remembered seeing her wearing the day before.  A makeup bag was spilled on the ground shedding it’s load of a young woman’s customary mask.

The teacher hung her head and spoke quietly as she remembered the popular girl who had been part of the group of 43 pupils she and her colleague had brought with them from the school near Berne.  This was the third year they had travelled to Ireland.  They were no naive tourists.  Ms Kramer Bertshy had warned her class before they left that the girls shouldn’t walk alone after dark.

Her voice dropped even further when she described the call from gardai on the evening of October 9th 2007.  She was asked, being in loco parentis, to go to the city morgue and identify the body of the 17-year-old, one of the youngest in the group.

She and her colleague, Christien Klingele, described a happy group in Galway for a two week intensive language course but also taking the time to enjoy the Galway nightlife.

The group had met in the King’s Head Pub, one of the best known pubs in Galway town – the story goes that the man who cut off the head of Charles 1 was given a reward of some Galway land by Oliver Cromwell’s parliament after  the English civil war. A bloody provenance but a popular watering hole for young visitors to Galway.

They went there first on Sunday 7th October, the day after they arrived.  The next night they were to meet again but Manuela wasn’t among them.  She never showed up and the following day missed the first full day of classes.

When she was found on the morning of October 9th Manuela’s body was not yet stiff from rigor mortis, the attending doctor concluding she had died only recently.  She was lying on her back, under the coat, one leg bent at the knee.

When you cover murders, or spend any length of time around the courts, you get a feeling for the trials that will stay with you after the verdict.  Even with the journalistic distance there are still some.  We might get used to hearing the most horrific injuries described in calm medical terminology but there are some trials where the human tragedy cuts through the remove.  This will be one.

A Hectic Few Weeks Ahead

It looks like I’ll be taking up residence in the Four Courts again from tomorrow.  The jury for the trial of Gerald Barry, accused of the murder of Swiss language student Manuela Riedo, is due to be sworn in tomorrow.

17-year-old Manuela’s body was found on waste ground close to the railway line at Lough Atalia in October 2007.  She had only been in Ireland for three days, here to take part in a two week intensive English language course.

27-year-old Gerald Barry with an address at Rosan Glas, Rahoon denies the murder.  He also denies the theft of a mobile phone and a camera.

The trial is expected to last around two and a half weeks and it’s one of those trials that will get a lot of attention. Manuela’s parents Hans-Peter and Arlette have travelled, along with her aunt, two of her teachers and a school friend, to attend the trial.

The six men and six women in the jury will begin hearing evidence tomorrow.

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