The notorious ‘Hot Chocolate Rapist’ Harry Barkas died of an overdose with his head stuffed down a prison toilet.
Barkas terrorised a generation of Melbourne women during the 1990s with laced cups of hot chocolate.
When Barkas was finally jailed for a minimum of nine years in 2010, it was for raping three women he knew – who could clearly identify him.
John Xydias (pictured) was a mate of Harry Barkas before he was convicted of sickening rapes himself
Josie Francoli (pictured) dobbed in her ex-boyfriend John Xydias to police, which led to his arrest
He was suspected of raping many more.
Barkas was 45 years old when he was charged with 24 of the hot chocolate rapes. Six other victims would come forward after reading of his arrest.
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He died under mysterious circumstances in 2016.
A source close to the Barkas investigation has told Daily Mail Australia Barkas was found dead in a pile of his own vomit with his head down the toilet.
He had somehow overdosed while being held in a prison in Lara – most likely Marngoneet Correctional Centre, in the shadow of the notorious Barwon prison.
But police claim there was nothing suspicious about the way Barkas met his demise.
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Detectives prepared a report for the coroner on October 7 that year, but the outcome of that investigation remains a mystery.
A spokesperson for the Coroner’s Court of Victoria confirmed the matter was ‘currently being investigated’.
Josie Francoli – the former girlfriend of rapist John Xydias who was best mates with Barkas at the time of his offending – was shocked to hear of Barkas’ demise.
‘You live by the sword, you die by the sword,’ she said. ‘No-one much would have shed a tear for him.’
Ms Francoli, who brought about the arrest of Xydias who also drugged and raped women, said Xydias claimed Barkas was a loathed inmate who was possibly marked for death.
‘How does someone die of an overdose in prison?’ she said.
Ms Francoli claimed Barkas was despised both in and out of prison and questioned why he would have killed himself with only months left to serve.
‘You’ve got to wonder whether someone got to him. I doubt anyone would have investigated his death too much,’ she said.
It was mid-1995 when the Hot Chocolate Rapist embarked on a four year campaign of sexual assault on Melbourne’s streets.
He preyed on at least 22 young women leaving nightclubs early in the morning and offered them a lift home.
Barkas would then stop at a convenience store and buy them a hot drink and slip drugs into the cup.
Once they had passed out he would attack them. Many woke in their own beds with no memory of how they got there, or what had happened to them.
Harry Barkas was believed to have used cups of hot chocolate to drug and rape his victims (stock image)
Victims were picked up in South Yarra, Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, Prahran and the CBD. Most were teenagers or in their early 20s.
History will say police never caught the Hot Chocolate Rapist.
But on May 2, 2008 they charged the number one suspect.
Barkas had worked for 10 years as a receptionist in a doctors’ surgery in Prahran where he had access to blank prescriptions and various narcotics and anti-depressants, including date-rape drug Rohypnol.
The effects of the drugs used on the Hot Chocolate victims meant they struggled to positively identify their attacker.
The charges over the Hot Chocolate Rapist attacks were all dropped.
It was a painful decision by prosecutors that tormented the detectives who worked tirelessly to bring Barkas to justice.
The case file remains open, but without further information coming forward, the crimes are likely to remain unsolved.
Barkas may have never been arrested at all if it weren’t for his friendship with Xydias.
Xydias’s arrest in 2007 after vile videos of his crimes were unearthed led police straight to Barkas.
In a series of now notorious jailhouse letters to his former lover Josie, Xydias branded his close friend Barkas a ‘predator’.
‘He always hangs out with a few old men who are paedophiles – his case is heaps worse than mine. Everybody says that at least the women accusing me came to see me, I never went to see them,’ he wrote.
Harry Barkas had access to the powerful sedative Rohypnol, which he is believed to have used to rape unsuspecting women (stock image)
Xydias was 46 when jailed in 2009 for a minimum of 20 years.
The rapist is now believed to be jailed at the Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat – 200km west of Melbourne.
It’s not quite the free-roaming prison Xydias hoped for in his rambling letters, but he’s getting closer.
In the 2010 letters, Xydias wrote that he had his heart set on a transfer to Langi Kal Kal prison, where he believed the convicts roamed like free range jailbirds.
Ms Francoli said she still believed Barkas was an even greater monster than Xydias, who she was instrumental in bringing to justice.
‘Harry was the ringleader. How do you think John got the drugs?’ she said.
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