Sex offender found lurking in hotel carpark

A convicted sex offender and conman has been given a suspended three-month sentence for trespassing in a hotel underground car park.

Ethan Ward (27), of no fixed abode and with a former address at Lui na Greine, Western Distributor Road, Salthill, received a two-year sentence with the final year suspended in May, 2016, for having sex with an underage girl in a restaurant toilet.

While out on bail awaiting sentence for that offence, Ward conned a trusting 82-year-old woman out of €3,000.  She had become afraid of him and felt she had to give him the money each time he called to her home.

He sometimes accompanied her to an ATM machine to withdraw money which was used to feed his €100-a-day heroin habit at the time.

Ward received a three-year sentence with two years suspended for that offence in November 2016.

He went on to breach the terms of a probation bond which had been imposed by the Circuit Court with regard to the suspended portion of that sentence, and has been held on remand at Castlerea Prison since last month, defence solicitor, Sean Acton told Galway District Court.

He is to appear back before the Circuit Court in the coming weeks for breaching the court order.

Sergeant Georgina Lohan said the offence before the court occurred when staff found Ward, who has  23 previous convictions, trespassing in a storeroom in the underground car park at the Galmont Hotel on January 5 last.

Mr Acton said Gardaí got a call about a number of homeless people in the car park and they found Ward in a hut there.

He said Ward had a significant drug problem since 2012 but he had since overcome a heroin addiction by himself and was now completely drug-free.

He said Ward had served his sentences (for the other offences) and was in the car park because he was homeless at the time.

Garda Jonathan Freyne, who had found Ward in the restricted area, disagreed with this.

He said Ward was there for the purpose of drug use.

Noting Ward was already in custody in relation to the Circuit Court matters, Judge Mary Fahy sentenced him to three months in prison for trespassing which she suspended for 12 months on condition he be of good behaviour and stay away from the Galmont Hotel.