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Convicted paedophile jailed after filming kids

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Sex offender Sean Johnson leaving Galway Courthouse on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Downes.

A convicted British paedophile was running talent competitions for children as young as seven in Galway and Cork for over a year before being tracked down by two Galway Gardai and arrested in Kerry last month.

Registered Sex Offender, Sean Johnson (33), from Derbyshire, had been using false names to evade detection and was renting rooms in both cities to hold bogus video auditions for children, some as young as seven, promising their parents and agents that they would be cast in children’s TV series.

Johnson appeared in custody before Galway District Court on Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to living in this jurisdiction between November 13, 2013 and February 1, 2014, without notifying the Gardai of his name or names used by him, his home address and his date of birth, as required because he is a registered sex offender, contrary to Section 12(1), (a) and (3) of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, as amended by Section 13 of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008.

Garda Pat Fahy told the court that he and Det. Sgt. Adrian O’Neill became aware on January 31, last year that Johnson was renting a room in a public library in Westside under the name of Alex Quinn for the purpose of auditioning children for a bogus TV series.

Johnson was staying in a local hostel where a member of staff became suspicious of him and rang the Gardai.

Gardai contacted the British police and they confirmed Johnson was a registered sex offender having being convicted in 2009 for possessing child pornography.
He received a four-month prison sentence at the time and was disqualified from working with children indefinitely.

Both Gardai went to the rented room in the library on February 1, 2014 and found a number of children, some as young as seven, being videoed by the accused as part of an audition for a bogus TV series. He had employed a photographer to take pictures of the children at both auditions. Johnson was arrested at the time and admitted he should not have been working with children.

He was brought before Galway District Court on February 1 last year and spent two months in custody before the DPP directed the Gardai to withdraw the above charge.
Johnson was released and immediately went to Cork where he started to audition more children for a bogus talent competition using the name Alexander Reid.

The Galway Gardai travelled to Cork on January 27 last looking for Johnson and caught up with him in a Tralee hostel two days later.

Judge Mary Fahy said it was very foolish of parents to put their very young children forward for auditions without checking out Johnson’s credentials first.
Imposing a 10-month sentence on Johnson for failing to notify Gardai he was in this jurisdiction, Judge Fahy said the message had to go out to “like-minded” individuals,whom, she said, networked and knew each other well, that such an offence carried a severe penalty in this country.Bridge work to spark traffic disruption for two months.

CITY TRIBUNE

Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

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

Tourists duped in Galway City rental accommodation scam

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have issued another ‘beware’ warning in relation to scammers offering fictitious properties to rent in the city area.

The advice comes after a report of a several separate tourists from overseas calling to a house in Shantalla over recent weeks, thinking that they had booked rental accommodation.

It is understood that the fake rental offer had been made through a booking website, but it turned out to be a scam with the tourists having ‘parted’ weeks earlier with a deposit of several hundred euro.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that such rental scams were an ongoing reality in relation to the accommodation sector, especially in cities like Galway with huge rental markets for long-term and short-term lets.

He said that the first pieces of advice for anyone seeking to rent a property was to only do business with an established bona-fide rental agency and to always meet the prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

Sgt Walsh said that the scammers also tended to be more active at times of the year when accommodation was in major demand as in the late-Summer/early-Autumn period as students returned to third level colleges.

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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