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Conman duped woman (82) into giving him large sums of money

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A convicted sex offender faces prison later this year for coercing a trusting and charitable 82-year-old woman into giving him large sums of cash over a twelve-month period.

Ethan Ward (25), 27 Lui na Greine, Western Distributor Road, Salthill, is currently serving one year or a two-year prison sentence, imposed on him on May 12, for having sex with a vulnerable 16-year-old schoolgirl in a fast-food restaurant toilet.

Ward pleaded guilty at Galway Circuit Criminal Court two weeks later to inducing the elderly woman to give him €1,630 cash on dates between April and December 2015.

He pleaded guilty also to stealing a €1,000 cheque from the woman and lodging it in his own account on a date between January 2015 and January of this year and to inducing the woman to give him a further €250 on January 8 last.

He further pleaded guilty to inducing the woman to give him €90 cash on January 6 last.

The theft and fraud offences were committed while Ward was out on bail, awaiting sentence for the sexual assault on the schoolgirl.

Prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy said the pleas to the above charges were acceptable on the basis that Ward was admitting his guilt to three other similar charges of deception.

Sentence was adjourned to this week for the preparation of a probation report on Ward and a impact statement from the victim.

The court heard Ward had not bothered to attend his probation appointments in the prison, so he could not be assessed.

Garda Karen Higgins told the sentence hearing on Wednesday it would never be known exactly how much money Ward took, but the woman had estimated it was at least €3,000.

She said the woman made a complaint to Gardai on January 19 last that she had been giving money to a man for a year and she had just realised he had been lying to her about his circumstances.

The woman first encountered Ward begging outside various churches around the city a year ago and he told her his name was Ethan O’Leary and he needed money to stay in hostels.  She took pity on him and gave him money on a few occasions.

He then turned up at her home in Salthill and she was concerned about that because she had not told him where she lived.

Garda Higgins said the victim was a very kind person and she felt sorry for Ward.  She regularly gave him money when he called to her home and if she did not have any cash in the house, Ward would accompany her to the ATM machine, walking a few metres behind her.

“She used to give him cups of tea and things to eat when he’d call to her home.

“As it went on, she felt pressured into giving him money and he started calling more regularly to her home,” Garda Higgins said.

The woman wrote a cheque to “Ethan O’Leary” on one occasion and her suspicions were aroused when it was never cashed.

She went with food to a hostel where Ward told her he was staying, but staff said no one named O’Leary was staying there.

The woman finally confided in her local priest and the Gardai were contacted.

Garda Higgins said that on a previous occasion, Ward stole a blank cheque from the woman while in her house and later cashed it, to the value of €1,000.

Ward was arrested outside the woman’s home last January.  She had refused to let him in but he came in and she told him to get out.

A roll of duct tape and three wire coat hangers were found when Gardai searched Ward’s rucksack.

“He never showed any remorse and he denied defrauding this 82-year-old woman. She’s too scared to come to court,” Garda Higgins added.

The woman’s victim impact statement said she goes to Mass every day and contributes generously to various charities.  She said she always saw the good in people.

“She knows she gave him a lot of money and she feels very gullible.

“He always had a story she believed.  She didn’t know at the time that he was a con artist and a criminal.  She thinks she may have given him €3,000.

“She now finds it hard to trust people and is more cautious answering the door,” Garda Higgins said of the woman.

The court heard Ward was using the money to feed his €100-a-day heroin addiction. Before that he was living off his wife and two children’s welfare allowances.

Garda Higgins said he had 19 previous convictions, the latest being for defilement of a child for which he was currently serving one-year of a two-year sentence imposed in May.

He had other convictions for thefts, burglary, possession of drugs, knives and public order offences.

Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy said his client had been in custody since his arrest on January 20. He said Ward feared for his life in Castlerea Prison and was on 23- hour lockdown for his own safety.

He said that was the reason his client could not attend probation appointments in the prison. He had asked to be moved to the Midlands Prison and his transfer was granted last month.

Judge Rory McCabe said the maximum sentence for the crime of deception was five years, while the maximum for theft was ten.

He said the deception charges before the court merited a three-year sentence while the theft of the cheque merited five years.

“This man engaged in a nasty campaign of milking money from this lady and she eventually became afraid not to give him money,” the judge said.

Judge McCabe noted Ward had previous convictions for crimes of dishonesty while his victim was vulnerable, decent and defenceless.

He said the court had been given a excuse why Ward had not bothered to attend the probation officer in Castlerea Prison for assessment, but it would now give him a chance to do so while in the Midlands Prison.

The judge then adjourned the matter to October 6 for the probation assessment to take place and he directed a probation report be furnished to the court in October.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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