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Jury finds man guilty of murdering his wife Anne Colomines in their home in 2017

Renato Gehlen, 39, had pleaded not guilty to the crime.

Anne Colomines
Anne Colomines
Image: Facebook

Updated Sep 29th 2021, 8:19 PM

A HUSBAND WHO displayed the “ultimate in toxic masculinity” by stabbing his wife through the heart in an effort to “control” the end of their marriage just weeks after she told him that she wanted a divorce has been found guilty of her murder.

The 12 jurors took just two hours and 30 minutes to unanimously reject Renato Gehlen’s defence that his wife Anne Colomines stabbed herself to death after they fought about “another man”. The prosecution had said Gehlen’s account was “ridiculous” and “insulting” to the jury. 

The accused told gardaí that Colomines had a knife and he didn’t know if she was going to do something to him or herself. Gehlen said he tried to grab the knife and as they struggled, he heard Colomines say, “ah!” and he lost his balance and fell to the ground beside the bed.

She fell also, he said, and then used the knife to stab herself in the abdomen. The accused said Colomines’ eyes were wide open and she locked her jaw as she stabbed herself in the middle of the chest.

Gehlen had told gardaí it was “50/50 blame on both sides” and that he “tried to make her stop”. He told detectives that he then tried to kill himself because Colomines was his family. 

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. In his closing speech, prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC argued that Gehlen “lost control” of his wife and his marriage and could not handle it, so he stabbed her through the heart. 

Gehlen’s actions that night, counsel said, 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”.

“He is not getting it [the marriage] back and she made it clear that she is not coming back. He is humiliated and cannot handle that his marriage has ended and what it means for him, his status here and his own view of himself. He is embarrassed, upset and distraught,” said Costelloe.

Furthermore, Costelloe submitted in his closing address that a person does not “plunge” a knife through the heart of someone, penetrating the sac so it comes out the other side, unless they intend to kill or cause serious injury. 

Brazilian national Gehlen (39) had pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife Colomines (37), a French national who worked for Paypal, at their home in Dorset Square, Gardiner Street upper, Dublin 1 on 25 October 2017.

Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan testified that she found four stab wounds to Colomines’ torso, a 22 centimetre incised wound to her throat and six incisions on her hands that she said were consistent with defensive injuries. One of the stab wounds was 20cm deep and passed through the heart, causing her death. Taking all the injuries together, Dr Mulligan said, it was “highly unlikely” the deceased stabbed herself to death. 

Evidence was given that on the night Colomines died, she exchanged 296 messages with her new French boyfriend whom she had met in France during the summer of 2017. The pair repeatedly said they loved one another and were planning for him to come and live in Ireland. The exchange ended at 11.06pm and emergency responders arrived to find Colomines’ lifeless body in her bedroom less than 30 minutes later. 

Verdict

Following today’s verdict, Mr Justice Michael MacGrath thanked the jury for their attendance and the attention they had given the case. “Thank you very much for coming into court everyday and you all listened very intently to the evidence,” he said. 

The judge asked the jury that they leave all notes and exhibits in the jury room and not bring anything connected with the case home with them. 

Addressing the jury for a final time, Mr Justice MacGrath said that what went on in the jury room was “confidential” and he asked them to retain that confidentiality when they go home. 

The judge exempted the seven men and five women from jury service for ten years. 

Mr Justice MacGrath adjourned sentencing after prosecution counsel Karl Finnegan BL asked the court for a short period of time, saying: “As the court is aware the deceased’s relatives have travelled from France and they are anxious to provide a victim impact statement prior to sentencing. I understand that can be done quickly.” 

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The judge will hand down the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment to Gehlen on 22 October and remanded the accused in custody until that date. 

On that date, the Colomines family will have an opportunity to make a statement to the court about the impact Anne’s death has had on their lives. 

Defence counsel Karl Monahan BL asked for the court to direct a governor’s and educational report, which was acceded to. 

Gehlen showed little reaction following the verdict. 

The trial also heard that Gehlen spoke almost every day to his friend Ralph Comendador about the break-up of the couple’s marriage after Colomines revealed that she wanted a divorce in late September 2017. Gehlen, Comendador testified, wanted to save the marriage and was upset that she wanted a divorce. The witness said: “He told me he tried to talk to her and wanted to talk to her but she didn’t want to talk to him about it.”

Comendador also told the trial that on the night Colomines died he received a message from the accused saying: “The same shit man. No talk. Cold and avoiding. Fuck, I really want to stab.” When the witness later spoke to the accused, Gehlen told him: “Sorry, I killed Anne and now I’m going to kill myself.”

When the accused discovered that his wife was seeing another man, he sent him several messages including one warning him “not to ever go near” her again and to “stay away”. Work colleagues and friends of Ms Colomines told the trial that in the months before she died she had started a new relationship with a man she met during a holiday in France. They told the court that Colomines wanted to divorce her husband and have a “fresh start”.

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Alison O'Riordan and Eoin Reynolds

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