Thursday 21 February 2019

Judge praises verdict as he jails student's killer for life

Abigail Rieley

Mr Justice Barry White told Gerald Barry that he was in complete agreement with the jury's decision to convict him of the murder of Swiss student Manuela Riedo.

The six men and six women had taken just over two-and-a-half hours to convict Barry, 29, with an address at Rosan Glas, Rahoon, Galway, of the murder of Ms Riedo at Lough Atalia in Galway on October 8 2007. He had pleaded guilty to stealing her mobile phone and camera at the same time and place.

Speaking as he handed down the mandatory life sentence for murder, Mr Justice White said: "I am in complete agreement with that verdict and I have no doubt that every right-minded person who read of this case is in agreement with this verdict."

Manuela's mother, Arlette Riedo, tightly gripped a set of rosary beads as the jury took their seats to deliver their verdict; while her father, Hans-Peter, looked visibly nervous.

Barry showed no emotion as the verdict was read out or as his previous convictions were catalogued.

The court heard that Barry had a string of previous convictions, including several more serious charges.

Superintendent PJ Durkan told the court that Barry had been one of several men arrested in connection with the murder of Colm Feelan from Tipperary, who was attacked in Eyres Square in Galway City in July 1996.

Barry was one of five people who stood trial in connection with the attack and the only one who did not plead guilty. He was sentenced to five years for violent disorder.

Supt Durkan also told the court that Barry had received a two-year sentence in October 1998 for an aggravated burglary in which a pensioner lost the sight in his remaining good eye as the result of Barry's assault.

He had also received a six-month sentence in February 2006 for the sexual assault of an ex-partner.

Supt Durkan agreed with defence counsel Martin Giblin that Barry had grown up in extremely dysfunctional circumstances.

Mr Giblin said that the dysfunction was so extreme that social services should have been involved in the plight of Barry and his four brothers and three sisters.

Supt Durkan agreed with Mr Giblin that "this failure to act may have landed us all where we are today".

Arlette Riedo cried openly as her husband read an emotional victim impact statement. Speaking through an interpreter, Hans-Peter Riedo described his daughter as "a unique and wonderful person" who was "the centre of our life and our sunshine".

He said that Manuela had been loved by everyone. "Anyone who knew her could not easily forget her. She was loved by her fellow students, both boys and girls, and had a special place in the hearts of many people."

He said that he and his wife had always looked after Manuela very carefully and he would often drive to meet her and bring her home safely. "No way was too long for me to bring her back."

His wife gripped her rosary beads as Mr Riedo told the court that they had brought three angels with them to Dublin.

As he handed Barry a sentence of five years for each of the theft charges, Mr Justice White told him that he trusted Barry had not been unmoved by Mr Riedo's evidence of the devastating effect Manuela's death had had on her parents.

"One often loses sight when someone loses one's life violently, that person is somebody's son or daughter, somebody's brother or sister, somebody's grandparent or somebody's child."

He expressed his sympathy to Manuela's parents "and in expressing my sympathies I have no doubt I am also expressing the sympathies of every right-minded citizen in the country".

He said that he hoped the Riedos could find in their hearts to forgive the Irish nation and said that the Courts Service had received correspondence addressed to them offering condolences and support. Speaking through an interpreter outside the Four Courts, Mr Riedo said that it had been very difficult to hear the lies about Manuela put forward by the defendant.

During the trial, Barry had claimed that her death was an accident after a consensual sexual encounter only 20 minutes after meeting.

He said that he and his wife were happy with the outcome, "but at the end of the day Manuela has died."

Mr and Mrs Riedo said they did not want to say what they thought of Gerald Barry, but had said in the past that he was a devil to them.

Speaking in English, Mr Riedo told reporters they hoped Barry would never be released. "We pray no. It's better for all people."

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