“I told her I thought she was beautiful and I leaned in and kissed her.”
So Gerald Barry described how a chance meeting developed into a sexual encounter. The 29-year-old is accused of the murder of Swiss teenager Manuela Riedo. Today, speaking in his own defence he told the court that the sex was consensual and her death a tragic accident.
Manuela’s mother broke down in tears as he described meeting her 17-year-old daughter near a shop in Renmore. He said they struck up a conversation then after around 20 minutes had sex in a grassy spot near Lough Atalia in Galway.
Afterwards, he told the court, she got up to go and meet her friends in Galway City but he pulled her back down to spend more time with him. It was then he said, as he hooked his arm around her neck to pull her down, that he accidentally throttled her.
He said that Manuela had been walking in the wrong direction from town so he showed her the right route to the shortcut she had used several times in the couple of days she had spent in Galway, there for a two week language class with her classmates.
They started talking after she had asked him for the time although didn’t say much as they walked towards “The Line”, a walkway that ran alongside the railway tracks.
Barry said he showed her how to get up to the path then sat down on a telegraph pole and skinned up a joint. After a couple of minutes she came back and sat beside him. She asked him why he was smoking. “I told her I liked the buzz. It relaxes me.”
Moments later he said he told her she was beautiful and they started kissing and “fondling”. They put their coats on the ground and lay down on them and had sex.
He said it was afterwards when they were lying together she sat up and talked about leaving. He had asked her was she cold but she replied it was far colder in Switzerland. He said he hadn’t thought he used any force when he pulled her back down but she just “slid down” and he realised she wasn’t breathing.
It was then, he said that he dragged her body into the bushes and put her jacket over her “out of respect”.
He could not explain why a button that matched the ones on her coat was found on the upper path or why long blond hairs were found snagged on the bushes from that path down to the spot her body was found. He told the prosecution barrister Una Kennedy that he had no idea how she got an injury to the back of her head or how a piece of skin two inches by three had come to be cut from her pubic area.
He said that he had not thrown a condom into bushes nearby the body in the hope that it would be taken away by the tidal lough nearby or that he had urinated it it in an attempt to dilute any DNA evidence. He had urinated because he was scared he said, no other reason.
Barry said he had lied to gardai because he was hoping that if he continued to deny everything it would just go away.
It’s been another hard day’s evidence for Manuela’s parents but they will get a day’s break tomorrow. The trial will resume on Friday when it is expected to finish. It will have been a long couple of weeks.
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