A serial rapist from Belfast was sentenced in a Canadian court to eight years in prison on Monday.
Robert Geary, 45, carried out a series of attacks on prostitutes in Winnipeg in the summer of 1999.
He was convicted of two sexual assaults, but was acquitted of two others, due to weakness of evidence.
Canadian police had spent almost a decade trying to bring Geary, an airplane mechanic, to justice. He escaped to England in 2000 with his family after having been released on bail while awaiting trial. After he surrendered his British passport to the authorities, he was able to travel on his Irish one.
In 2002, he was almost caught when he was seen working at Frankfurt Airport, after security clearances became tighter for airport employees following 9/11.
Police eventually tracked Geary down to an English jail in 2004 – where he was serving time for attempting to procure sex with a minor. Prostitutes in Cambridge alerted police after he asked them to find a young girl for him to have sex with.
After Geary had served his sentence in England, he was extradited back to Canada in March 2008.
Prosecuting attorney Zane Tessler said that Geary’s conduct was “vile and despicable” and that he treated his victims "like pieces of meat."
At the trial, the court heard how Geary would pick up prostitutes, drive them to remote locations and rape them when they wouldn't agree to his demands.
One former prostitute, who is now 44, said that Geary drove her to an industrial park and then anally raped her.
"I felt dirty and scared," she told the court. "I thought he was going to kill me. He told me to keep still, it would be over sooner."
Another woman, who had told police that Geary had raped her, died in 2005. Her evidence was submitted by written testimony. She said that that Geary drove her to a location near an airport, and that she had agreed to perform oral sex. He then insisted on intercourse and when she objected, he raped her.
Geary’s lawyer said in court that the prostitutes’ memories were damaged by hardcore drug use, and that they couldn’t recall Geary’s accent.
Detective Gerri Forscutt, who had worked on the case, told the Winnipeg Free Press: “These girls were part of a family, as well. Knowing their friends had been victimized, they didn't want to see that happening to somebody else. That was enough incentive for them to gear down and go through court. Those are human beings too and they have their dignity, as well. A lot of people don't realize that.”
Geary, who immigrated to Canada in 1993, will almost certainly face deportation after he completes his sentence.