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Australian man jailed for 12 years over cold case sex assaults

Robert William Barry was jailed for 12 years in court on Friday.

An Australian grandfather has been sentenced to 12 years behind bars for a string of horrific sex offences - including two rapes - committed more than 20 years ago. 

Robert William Barry, 54, was jailed in Perth District Court on Friday after a cold case review last year uncovered new DNA evidence linking him to three sex crimes.

The court heard how his violent sexual offending escalated from an incident at Carousel Shopping Centre in 1991 when he masturbated in front of a young shop assistant, to the rape of a 17-year-old girl in the shopping centre car park less than two months later. 

Barry approached the teenager in the car park, grabbing her from behind and strangling her when she tried to scream. 

He ripped the girl's underwear off, forced her face into the dirt and raped her before fleeing. 

The Gosnells man also confessed to raping a 15-year-old girl two years later at an Albany primary school in 1993. 

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In that incident, he grabbed the girl as she was walking in the school grounds around 6:30pm and forced her to perform oral sex on him in a toilet block before taking her to another location within the school and raping her. 

In a victim impact statement, part of which was read in court by Judge Julie Wager, in girl said the assault represented a child having her future stolen. 

"Her life was irreversibly changed," Judge Wager said.

"The damage done on that day... it was a child having her future stolen from her."

The court heard Barry, who was arrested in May 2016 over the "degrading" and "terrifying" attacks, did not confess to the crimes until he was presented with the DNA evidence. 

Defence lawyer Jeremy Morris claimed Barry was remorseful and cooperated with police after his confession. 

"His first response to me was, 'I'm not that man now, but I was that man then'", he said. 

"He will live with the consequences of his actions, regardless of how long he spends in prison."

Morris said Barry's family, with includes three grown-up children and grandchildren, had been "ruptured" after they learnt of his crimes. 

Barry himself was sexually and physically abused as a child and had been violent in the past, the court heard.

The victims of his attacks, one of whom was in court for the sentencing, described in their victim impact statements the events, which happened 23 and 25 years ago, still left them fearful.

The Carousel shopping centre victim said she still felt shame over the traumatic rape.

"A little over 25 years ago at the age of 17, my life changed because a stranger thought they had the right to violate my body," she said. 

The girl described how Barry's offending had impacted her relationships with family and friends and that she still feared being alone, or hearing someone come up behind her. 

Judge Wager said the community needed to know this kind of "terrifying and shattering" offending could not be tolerated. 

"I do accept you are remorseful... and that you have changed," she said.

"The delay (in arresting Barry) has stopped victims from moving forward."

Barry was made eligible for parole.

watoday.com.au

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