‘The role of a mother is not to bury her child… my little Anne forgive me for not protecting you’ – Anne’s mother tells the court today
A Brazilian man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife in their Dublin home nearly four years ago.
The family of murder victim Anne Colomines today described her as a "beautiful, intelligent and generous" woman and that "life has lost all meaning" since.
Today Renato Gehlen (39) received the mandatory life sentence for the murder of his French wife on Dorset Square in the north-inner city on October 25, 2017.
A jury had rejected the killer's claim that she had injured herself during a row and instead unanimously accepted the State's case that Gehlen displayed "the ultimate in toxic masculinity" when he murdered Anne Colomines (37).
Victim impact statements from her family were today read out in court by prosecutor Shane Costelloe SC.
Her mother, Danielle Gallard, said that "life has lost all meaning" and that it destroys her that she will never see her daughter again.
She described Anne Colomines as an "intelligent, beautiful and generous" woman who she cannot imagine living without.
"The role of a mother is not to bury their child," she said, and that it is a "sorrow we cannot overcome".
"My little Anne forgive me for not protecting you," Ms Gallard said, adding that she will have to live with her "scream of panic and pain".
Anne's father Jean-Louis Gallard, who is very seriously ill, said that the murder of his daughter was a huge shock, both physical and mental, which left his heart torn.
Mr Gallard said it is an ordeal for him that he will no longer hear her laughter, or share her sorrows and happiness.
Her older sister, Alexandra Colomines, said it felt like time stood still when she was told of her murder.
She said the intense pain has not left her since October 25, 2017, and spoke of the constant heartbreak of not being able to touch or talk to her sister again.
"I still cannot believe you are gone," Alexandra Colomines said.
Det Insp Aidan Flanagan gave evidence to the court that Renato Gehlen was "unknown to gardaí" prior to the murder and that he has no previous convictions.
His defence counsel Seamus Clarke SC said that Gehlen was a model prisoner who had joined the Red Cross while in custody in Clovehill prison.
Mr Justice Michael MacGrath said the murder was "terrifying, horrific and completely senseless" and that it was no doubt difficult for her family to hear during the trial.
He said the fact that Renato Gehlen "sought to ascribe" the murder to Anne Colomine's actions "must have been all the more harrowing for her family to listen to."
Mr Justice MacGrath sentenced him to the mandatory term of life imprisonment and backdated to November 10, 2017 when Gehlen first went into custody.
The trial at the Central Criminal Court heard evidence of how their marriage of five years had broken down and that the husband took to spying on his wife's computer to see who she was talking to online.
The prosecution had said that he "lost control" of his wife and their marriage and that because he couldn't handle it, Gehlen stabbed her through the heart.
Prosecutor Shane Costelloe SC said Gehlen's actions that night were "the last roll of the dice" and amounted to "the ultimate in toxic masculinity by trying to regain what he saw as controlling the situation and him putting the final full stop at the end of their marriage, not her."
During the two-week trial Renato Gehlen sat with his head facing down and looking at the floor for most of the proceedings.
Evidence was given of how he told gardaí that they had a fight about "another man" and claimed that Ms Colomines had the knife.
Gehlen told his interviewers that he grabbed the knife because he didn't know if she was going to do something to herself and that he lost his balance and fell beside the bed.
Ms Colomines also fell, with her husband claiming that she then used the knife to stab herself in the abdomen and in the middle of the chest.
The now convicted murderer also claimed that the incident was "50/50 blame on both sides" and that he "tried to make her stop".
However, in her evidence Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said that, taking all the injuries together, it was "highly unlikely" that Anne Colomines stabbed herself to death.
In his closing speech to the jury Mr Costelloe also described Gehlen's claims as "nonsense" and that killing someone because they are humiliated by their wife seeing someone else was "not a defence" to murder.
"A woman who is happily sitting in her bedroom communicating on Facebook with her new boyfriend in what she sees as her future with him - whilst her husband seethes downstairs - that she decides to kill herself. It is patently nonsense," the prosecutor told the jury.
Speaking outside the court through an interpreter, Alexandra Colomines said: "We are really relieved, we feel that we've been heard.
"Anne my sister was a generous lady, she loved many people and was always smiling. She was ready to help everyone.
"She was loved by everyone."
Asked what she thought of Gehlen's claim that her sister's wounds were self-inflicted, Alexandra said the family couldn't believe him.
Asked if the family believed they got justice, she said they had and were satisfied with the trial.
Ms Colomines also thanked the barristers and solicitors, the investigating gardaí and their friends.
She said that the trial was very difficult for the family, with the evidence of what happened to Anne painful to hear.
They said they had met Renato Gehlen previously, but that they didn't know him very well because of a language barrier.