I'm not updating here as often as I should. I keep a blog at my website and since I'm covering a trial at the moment and starting to research for the next project it's as much as I can do to keep that up and running...ah the trials of this new world we live in.
I'm still covering the Manuela Riedo trial at the moment. It's a particularly harrowing one - the hardest I think I've ever covered. Trials with young victims are always heavy going, so much promise destroyed so arbitrarily, but this one is particularly horrific. The details that keep coming up in evidence are giving even the most hardened court reporters a bit of a wobble.
If you haven't been following the case I'll try and summarise it as succinctly as possible. Manuela Riedo was a 17-year-old Swiss student in Galway for a two week English language course with her school. She'd only been in the country for three days when she died. Her semi-naked body was found in bushes near Lough Atalia in Galway. She had been strangled, had injuries to her head and a piece of skin two inches by three had been removed from her groin area.
The man accused of her murder, 29-year-old Gerald Barry from Rosán Glas, Rahoon in Galway, admits killing her but says it was a tragic accident during a consensual sexual encounter. He says he is not responsible for any of her other injuries.
The trial is almost over - the prosecution finished yesterday - and we may have a verdict by the weekend. Personally I will not be sorry to move onto the next story.
Today is an unexpected day off. You get them every now and then when you follow the courts. Things happen in trials that have to happen when the jury aren't there, other things cause delays and the court simply doesn't sit. Since we can't write anything that happens when the jury aren't present during a trial that can mean a lot of hiatuses.
I'm supposed to be working on putting the facts in order for a final wrap up piece but the sun is shining and I've ended up spending most of the day pottering around my miniscule back garden. Spending a few hours up to your elbows in soil with spring growth all around you can banish any blues.
That's one thing you learn in this job. There has to be time out. It's hard, since writing can be a rather 24 hour occupation, to let things go at the front door but if the story's that grim you have to try. I know quite a few journos who've found the court beat heavy going after a while. At the very least you develop a very cynical attitude and a black sense of humour.
It's funny, when I'm writing fiction I can deal with very heavy subject matter but it doesn't settle in quite the same way. I suppose it's because, while it might be worrying to see the blackness in your own soul at least you don't have to think about the blackness in anybody else's.
Don't get me wrong I love my job and find the stuff I write about fascinating, but over the past few years I've thought a lot about this subject and realised that I need more time out with this job than other more general news beats I've covered.
Having said that, I really had better get back to work. I'm just putting the thought out there. Feel free to tell me what you think.