Renato Gehlen jailed for life for ‘horrific’ murder of Anne Colomines

Judge says ordeal made worse for woman’s family by husband’s claim that she killed herself

Renato Gehlen  with  his wife Anne Colomines, who he murdered at their home in Dublin

Renato Gehlen with his wife Anne Colomines, who he murdered at their home in Dublin

 

A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the “terrifying and horrific” murder of his wife, who was described in court on Friday as a “beautiful, intelligent woman” who loved life.

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath sentenced Renato Gehlen to the mandatory life term after hearing statements written by relatives of French national Anne Colomines at the Central Criminal Court.

Ms Colomines’ mother, Danielle Gallard, who was not able to travel from France for the hearing, stated that her life had lost meaning since her daughter’s death.

“Anne was my friend, my love, a beautiful, intelligent woman,” she said.

The judge offered his condolences to Ms Colomines’ family, whose grief he said was made “all the more harrowing” by Gehlen’s contention that she had killed herself while they were arguing.

Gehlen (39), a Brazilian national, was unanimously convicted by a jury of murdering Ms Colomines (37) at the home they shared on Dorset Square, Gardiner Street Upper, Dublin 1 on October 25th, 2017.

The trial heard that Ms Colomines had started seeing another man and told her husband she wanted a divorce. He claimed that she stabbed herself four times, including a fatal injury that penetrated her heart and a wound across her neck.

Highly unlikely

State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan told the trial it was “highly unlikely” that Ms Colomines had inflicted the injuries on herself. The pathologist also pointed out that Ms Colomines suffered defensive type injuries to her hands, often seen when a person tries to block a knife attack.

The jury accepted the State’s case that Gehlen had displayed the “ultimate in toxic masculinity” by stabbing his wife to death in an effort to control the end of their marriage.

Alexandra Colomines, a sister of the deceased, was joined in court by friends for Friday’s hearing.

In a written statement, Anne Colomines’ father, Jean-Louis said the “sudden and horrendous loss” of his child was a “huge shock”. His heart is torn, he said, as he can no longer hear his daughter’s voice or laughter or see her smile.

Ms Gallard said her “dreams and hope and the radiance of my daughter have disappeared forever”.

“Forgive me for not protecting you. Every day I hear your call, your screams of panic and pain. Rest in peace. Your mum will always love you,” she said in her statement.

Alexandra Colomines said she felt time stood still when she heard her little sister was dead. She described her “intense pain” and heartbreak and recalled going to a morgue to identify her body and then to a funeral home to choose a coffin.

Missed

She went to the apartment where Anne was murdered to gather her things and to the office at Paypal, where Anne had worked.

“I saw your mug, your scarf, I have met all of your friends who miss you terribly,” she said. “The more the years go by, the more we miss you. You loved life and the people around you and you had a future.”

Det Insp Aidan Flanagan told prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC that Gehlen had no previous convictions and was not known to gardaí prior to the murder.

Defence counsel Séamus Clarke said Gehlen completed a number of courses and certificates in prison including one titled ‘Alternatives to Violence’. A governor’s report, counsel said, described him as a model prisoner.

Mr Justice MacGrath said the murder was “terrifying and horrific” and the ordeal was made more harrowing for the deceased’s family when Gehlen ascribed Anne’s death to her own actions.

She came from a loving family, the judge said, who carried themselves with the greatest dignity.

Speaking outside the court, Alexandra Colomines said her sister was a “generous lady who loved people and was always smiling and was ready to help”.

When asked about Gehlen’s attempt to blame Anne for her own death, she said: “We couldn’t believe him because we know Anne very well. We knew she wouldn’t do that.”

She urged women who find themselves in controlling relationships not to be afraid and to talk to somebody they can trust.