Robert William Barry, Melbourne Courts: Western Australian man uttered four chilling words to his victim during rape

A serial rapist uttered four words to a young woman before knocking her unconscious in a suburban garden and brutally raping her.

Western Australian man Robert William Barry, 61, was handed a 7 and a half year sentence on Friday after after archived DNA evidence connected him to the rape of a 24-year-old woman in Victoria’s east in 1984.

He is already serving time behind bars, having already been convicted and sentenced for other violent sex crimes between 1991 and 1993 in WA.

Barry was unfazed as the judge handed down her sentence in Victoria County Court on Friday, appearing via video in a dark green prison-issued jumper with his hands clasped on the desk in front of him.

The court was told how the young Victorian woman, who cannot be identified, had been ambushed in the dark and thrust to the ground after celebrating with friends at a bar in Traralgon on August 25 1984.

The woman said she “froze” before Barry grabbed her, pinning her arms and forcing her head away from him.

“Don’t look at me,” he said.

The court heard that during the struggle, she attempted to crawl away from Barry, who bashed her head against a wooden garden sleeper, knocking her unconscious.

She woke the next day wearing only her windcheater, making her way to a nearby house where she was given a blanket and the resident, who was not named, called the police.

The court heard that later that day, she confided in her friends and showed them the injuries which had left her “unrecognisable”, with bruised and swollen eyes, cuts around her mouth and difficulty in talking.

Police later archived swabs, microscope slides and blood samples taken from the woman as she was treated at Central Gippsland Hospital, where the matter remained a cold case for nearly 30 years.

In sentencing Barry, Judge Nola Karapanagiotidis said women should not have to fear “unprovoked brutality” or feel unsafe as they walk along the street.

“Such offending strikes at the most basic values of a civilised society where people should feel safe on our streets and women should not fear such unprovoked brutality,” she said.

The long-lasting and irreversible memory of the attack had left the woman with depression and anxiety, with Judge Karapanagiotidis adding her written statement submitted to court was “powerful.”

“The worst thing is that it will never go away, but I am determined to live my life,” the woman’s statement read.

She was in attendance to watch the sentence being handed down on Friday.

The court was told Barry was a father and grandfather who had been raised in a volatile home environment.

Known as Robert Johnston at the time of the offence, before changing his name, he described himself as a “terrible drunk” during his teenage years.

Following a move to WA with his young family, Barry raped a young woman and exposed himself in public in the early 1990s.

DNA evidence was crucial in leading to his eventual arrest at his home in Canningvale, where he provided police with a “no comment interview.”

Four of the seven and a half years Barry was sentenced to on Friday will be added to the 12-year sentence he was given in 2017 for separate crimes in WA.

He will serve the remainder of his sentence in Victoria, with a 12-year, three-month non parole period.

Judge Karapanagiotidis said there was “no real explanation” for what Barry had done, adding that she was not confident in his eventual rehabilitation.

She said the incident warranted a “substantial term of imprisonment” but not a sentence designed to be crushing in effect.

Barry will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

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