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Evil predator showed no remorse for terror reign

Gerald Barry did not flinch as he was handed another two life sentences to add to the one he is already serving for the murder of Swiss student Manuela Riedo. As Mr Justice Paul Carney told the packed courtroom in the Galway courthouse on Friday that Barry was a criminal who deserved no "tunnel of light" at the end of his sentence, Barry cocked his head to look defiantly at the judge's bench.

These latest sentences relate to the savage rape of a French student whom Barry attacked at knifepoint just seven weeks before he would kill 17-year-old Manuela.

After his conviction in March this year for the murder of Manuela, the 29 year old, with an address at Rosan Glas, Rahoon, Co Galway, pleaded guilty to the earlier charges, two counts of rape and a third count of stealing a mobile phone.

As he sentenced him for what he called an "outrage", Judge Carney said that Barry had a "propensity to kill or rape and is highly likely to do so again if given the opportunity".

Referring to the automatic reduction of sentences by 25 per cent, the judge said that not everyone is entitled to a "tunnel of hope" built into their sentences. "This is a concept built in gentler times before the scourge of drugs made some people mindless, wholly irrational and evil."

Barry had repeatedly attacked his former girlfriend, culminating in her getting a protection order against him. By the time he raped a French student in 2007 and weeks later, raped and murdered the Swiss student, Manuel Riedo, he was already a convicted sex offender, listed on a garda register as a danger to women, and the subject of a court protection order.

Barry, 29, was one of nine children born in Mervue, a suburb of Galway city. His father, a trucker, left their mother. She was an alcoholic who struggled to raise the rowdy brood of five boys and four girls. The children should have been taken into care, the court heard. Instead they were largely left to themselves, roaming around the housing estate in Rahoon in Galway city.

It was only a matter of time before Gerald Barry ran into trouble with gardai; he was sentenced for theft, public order and burglary and a string of drug and road traffic offences. Spells in teenage remand centres such as Trinity House and St Patrick's Institution failed to curb his propensity for violence.

He was just 16 when he got involved in a violent attack that ended in the brutal death of an innocent young man on a stag night in Galway.

Colm Phelan, 26, was waiting for a taxi with friends in Eyre Square when Barry and a gang jumped on them. Colm died of head injuries. While the rest of the gang pleaded guilty to violent disorder, Barry insisted that he was innocent. He was jailed for five years.

He went on to attack an elderly man in his home, resulting in him being completed blinded. He was sentenced to two years in jail for that.

Although in and out of prison, he had a relationship with a local girl. Garda sources said she endured terrible abuse, even after she gave birth to their child. She left him but he pursued her. In 2005, he broke into her home one night and he sexually assaulted her. She reported him to the gardai and got a protection order.

Barry was convicted of sexual assault for which he received an 18-month sentence. When he got out, he continued to pursue her. Late on August 16, 2007, he called to her home. There was a fight and a struggle and he assaulted her.

He later claimed to gardai that he went home after that. The truth was that after his attack on his partner, he saw a young woman walking ahead of him through Mervue estate. He walked quickly behind her, grabbed her by the hair and put a knife to her throat. He dragged her to St James's GAA pitch and raped her repeatedly.

She was a French student at the university, on her way home from an evening listening to traditional music. Later that day, the French student sat in a hospital accident and emergency ward so traumatised that she could not utter words to describe the attack. She wrote "I was raped" on a piece of paper.

Elsewhere in the city, Barry's ex-girlfriend went to her local garda station to report the breach of the protection order. Gardai realised that Barry was in the Mervue area on the night the French student was attacked. On questioning him, they realised that the clothes he wore on the night he assaulted his ex-girlfriend were the same as those worn by the man who attacked the French student.

Two days later, on August 18, Barry was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Gardai, aware of her fear of him, asked the judge to keep him in custody. And although they had no evidence, he was now a key in a serious rape allegation. The judge granted Barry bail. Seven weeks later, he killed Manuela Riedo, a Swiss student who was only in Galway three days.

In a victim impact statement given to gardai, the French student, who did not attend the sentencing, said she was surprised to survive the attack. "When I am thinking of what had happened, I do not understand why I'm breathing right now, why am I not dead? Why did that man leave me go and decide that I was allowed to live. Many questions, far fewer answers that will never come."

She described how Barry had raped her at knifepoint near a GAA pitch in Galway city on August 16, 2007. The woman, who was 21 at the time of the attack, had been out with friends in the city. Unable to find a cab, she decided to walk home but was grabbed by Barry and dragged off the road.

The description had haunting similarities to the murder of Manuela Riedo. Both women had been walking alone when they were attacked, both of them were robbed by Barry afterwards.

The French woman described how Barry held a knife to her throat as he had anally raped her. She said that he also forced her to perform oral sex on him, promising her that he would let her go if she did. Afterwards he went back on his word and raped her twice more.

When he eventually let her go, she was too traumatised to seek help and didn't go to hospital until the following day. She found it too difficult to speak about her ordeal and had to write on a piece of paper, "I was raped".

In her victim impact statement, the woman said she still could not talk about what had happened to her. She suffered nightmares for weeks after the attack and said she still felt really insecure "when a man is walking behind me or someone touches my back, my neck or my hair. It is my body and I cannot permit anyone else to touch me or to get too close to me without getting concerned".

She said that she had found newspaper reports of the rape very difficult to deal with. "It happened to me and not to them. They talk of it as if it was an everyday life story. I try to forget about this but they bring me back to that day. The newspapers are not conscious of the harm caused by such articles."

As Manuela's parents had done at the earlier trial, the woman begged for Barry to receive the maximum sentence. "He is not human or a man. He is a liar, a murderer, a rapist and he is one of a crazy, inconceivable breed.

"He is a human predator. He has to be punished for what he did." She said Barry's life had been "nothing but disgusting, bad actions against other people" and that she was just another "on his list".

In 2006, Barry received a six-month sentence for the sexual assault on his ex-partner. Shortly before he killed Manuela Riedo, Barry had appeared in court on other assault charges. Gardai unsuccessfully objected to bail. At the time of the murder of Manuela, they were still investigating the rape of the student and had not yet charged him.

He killed Manuela on October 8, 2007, just three days after she arrived in Galway for a two-week language course. It was the first time she had been away from home on her own. Barry attacked her as she was walking into Galway to meet up with her fellow students. He dragged her off the walkway known locally as 'the Line', an isolated path that ran by the railway tracks from Renmore into Galway city.

Manuela's semi-naked body was found on wasteland at Lough Atalia the following morning. Her clothes and belongings were strewn around and a condom containing Gerald Barry's DNA was found hanging from a nearby bush.

In their victim impact statement after Gerald Barry was convicted of murdering their only child, Manuela's parents said that he had taken away their "angel".

Her father, Hans Peter Riedo, told the court, "I will never lead my daughter as a bride to the altar, and my wife will never knit baby clothes for a grandchild, and we won't have anyone to look after us when we are old."

Last week, in Manuela's home town of Bern, a concert was held in aid of the Manuela Riedo Foundation, set up by Manuela's parents and Irish pub owner Brendan McGuinness to support rape victims and their families.

It also emerged last week that Manuela's parents are considering the possibility of suing the State over the failure of the Irish justice system to protect their daughter from her killer. They are angry that Barry did not serve more time for killing Colm Phelan and that he was a free man in 2007.

Gardai in Galway thanked the public for their help in the cases. "Galway is a safer place for everyone with the imprisonment of Gerald Barry," Superintendent Tom Curley said.