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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

Hero’s welcome following rescue of two women on Galway Bay

Stephen Corrigan

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Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The miraculous rescue on Galway Bay yesterday of two young women from Knocknacarra brought 15 long hours of searching to a euphoric conclusion, as cousins Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) were brought safely to shore.

A major search and rescue operation was launched after the pair went missing from Furbo Beach on Wednesday night, when they were swept away by a sudden wind while paddle boarding.

Claddagh fisherman and former Lifeboat shore crew member Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son Morgan joined the search early on Thursday morning and were the heroes of the hour after they discovered the two women on their boards, clinging to a lobster pot about two miles south-west of Inis Oírr, where despite their ordeal, they were described as “ok, but shaken”.

In the face of torrential rain and high winds overnight, both women had drifted almost 20 miles out to sea, but amazingly neither required serious medical attention.

Sara’s mother, Helen Feeney, raised the alarm shortly after 9pm on Wednesday evening when she noticed the pair missing as she walked their dog along the shore.

Sara, a daughter of Helen and Bernard Tonge, and Ellen, daughter Deirdre and well-known former captain of Galway United Johnny Glynn, were both said to be in good spirits at the hospital yesterday afternoon.

One relative told the Galway City Tribune that the family was “utterly humbled by the generosity of people” who had took part in the search and said, “unbelievable doesn’t even begin to describe it”.

“Thank you from all the family to everyone who helped, words will never express our gratitude.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Photo: Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway farm operators fall fowl of locals

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Neighbours of Mad Yolk Farm have asked Galway City Council to determine whether planning permission is required for a portable chicken coop earmarked for the land in Roscam.

This week, Mad Yolk Farm has indicated that it will be adding chickens to the site, which has already been the subject of planning enforcement by the local authority.

In a Facebook post, the operators said they are planning to rear organic chickens on site, with neighbours fearing as many as 450 birds in the chicken ‘caravan’.

“Our chicken caravan is now built and our beaked ladies will arrive in eight days. We’ll be moving the hens onto fresh grass each day and they’ll be free to forage for insects and take mud baths. They’ll be free to behave like a chicken should,” the business said on social media.

It has prompted a neighbour of the property to write the Council to formally ask for a declaration “whether the work/development described in the form is or is not development or is or is not exempted development under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act”.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cold water poured on Spanish Arch ‘bushing’ sprinkler plan

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has poured cold water on a suggestion that it should install water sprinklers to deter ‘bushing’ at city centre hotspots for outdoor drinking, such as Spanish Arch.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) this week said the local authority should examine providing sprinklers, to deter bushing, after Spanish Arch and Middle Arch were packed with hundreds of revellers during the sunshine last weekend, and the areas were littered with alcohol bottles and cans.

Cllr Hoare said large crowds were prohibited from gathering outside due to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines, and if the partying continued “Galway will be the next county to be locked down”.

He said CCTV cameras should be installed at Spanish Arch and Middle Arch and added: “Galway City Council should consider installing sprinklers as a long-term solution.”

However, the City Council said it was not its intention to install sprinklers.

“It’s so hot at the moment, if you put out a sprinkler anywhere in Galway, people would just dance under it. We’re so unused to this muggy heat, that if you did that (installed sprinklers), on top of your 12-pack of Bacardi Breezers, or whatever it is young people drink these days, you’d have the biggest wet t-shirt competition this side of Ibiza – people would just dance under them. No, we have no plans for sprinklers,” remarked a City Council spokesperson.

He said the Council was unaware of a separate suggestion – announced by Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard on social media – that certain city areas be exempted from the street drinking bylaws, to allow them to be monitored and controlled.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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