A man returned to his isolated house to find two intoxicated burglars asleep in his bed.
Caroline O’Brien (27), a native of Newcastle, in Galway city, who now lives in Cappaghmore, Kinvara, pleaded before Galway Circuit Court last week to burglary on June 1, 2016 at the house which is located near Labane.
Garda Stephen Joyce from Gort Garda Station told the sentence hearing he received a complaint from a man who said he had returned home in the early hours to find the back door of his house had been forced open.
He crept inside and found a couple asleep in his bed. He left the property quietly to go and ring the Gardaí, but when Garda Joyce and the man arrived at the house a short time later, the couple were gone.
Garda Joyce said he noticed blood stains on the ground near where two panes of glass had been broken to gain entry to the property. There were further blood stains on the walls and in the toilet inside the house.
They noticed a jewellery box was thrown on the ground which the man said had belonged to his mother.
Garda Joyce said he drove down the road and came upon a couple walking along wearing dark clothing. Both of them were intoxicated and O’Brien was drinking a can of alcohol at the time.
They were arrested after admitting they had come from the man’s house.
An old gold watch, which had belonged to the man’s mother, was found in O’Brien’s handbag.
She readily admitted her involvement in the burglary.
Garda Joyce said O’Brien had 49 previous convictions, eight of which were for thefts while another was for trespass and she had served terms of imprisonment in the past.
He said he had known her since she moved to the area with her partner. “While sober she is fine to deal with, but when she consumes alcohol it generally causes issues,” he said.
The Garda also confirmed O’Brien had handed over €150 for the cost of repairing the glass panes in the victim’s home.
Garda Joyce said that while the man was happy to receive the compensation he had been left traumatised by the burglary, particularly because of his mother’s watch being taken, and he had not wanted to come to court or make a victim impact statement.
Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy, summed up his client’s battle with alcohol when he said: “My client’s periods of intoxication have outweighed periods of sobriety in her life so far.”
He said O’Brien had told Gardai during interview that she and her partner had been drinking with others near a river and on the way home her partner told her the house was a squat and they broke in.
They went to bed and woke up at 2.30am to find a man looking down on them. They left the house after the man left and hid outside for a while.
O’Brien told Gardai her partner had given her the watch but she accepted her culpability from the start, Mr McCarthy said.
A probation report on his client was not “helpful” the barrister said. Probation officer, Pat Mitchell, had found that O’Brien did not avail of residential treatment opportunities in the past and was unwilling to do so now either.
However, Mr McCarthy said that antabuse medication, administered by her GP, had worked for O’Brien before and she was willing to go down that route again if given a chance.
Judge Rory McCabe said there was little likelihood of the anti-booze medication working.
Noting the charge of burglary carried a maximum 14-year sentence, he said the homeowner had suffered a “dreadful, shocking and frightening experience”, to come home and find two people in his bed and to find his mother’s watch had been taken also.
“She (O’Brien) is an habitual drinker and an habitual criminal and the two may be linked,” the judge said.
He indicated the appropriate sentence was four years before granting Mr McCarthy’s application to adjourn the sentence for four weeks to await the findings of a further probation report.
Galway County Council brings in new rules on roadside memorials
Families and friends of road accident victims will have to apply in writing to erect a roadside memorial under a specific size following the adoption of a new policy by Galway County Councillors.
The new rules will not affect memorials already erected – but if they have to be replaced, they will have to satisfy the now agreed criteria.
The Council area engineer will have to approve the location of any proposed memorial and the written consent of the landowner must be sought where possible in advance.
If friends wish to erect a memorial, they must get the written agreement of the family of the deceased. The policy now prohibits any lighting as could distract motorists and flowers or vegetation around it is now not allowed as it could block sight lines.
If the memorial is a free-standing cross it must not be higher than 750mm and if it is a free-standing stone, it must now comply with a maximum dimension of 450mm high, 450mm wide by 150mm deep.
There can only be one memorial per accident, regardless of the number of victims under the new framework created in consultation with the Gardaí and Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s (TII) Regional Safety Engineer.
Up to now there has been no policy in place regarding roadside memorials, despite the fact that hundreds dot the countryside. But their erection can cause difficulties, such as interference with verge trimming, distraction to other road users, they can attract visitors to accident blackspots and have the potential to block sight lines.
The policy states that it may not be possible to locate the memorial at the exact location of the incident and any memorials erected without the approval of the Road Authority will be removed. No roadside memorials are permitted on dual carriageways with a speed limit of 100 km/h or motorways.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full story, see the July 1 edition of the Connacht Tribune. You can purchase a digital edition HERE.
Green hub could create up to 900 new jobs
Údarás na Gaeltachta is going full steam ahead with plans for a green energy hub at Ros an Mhíl Harbour in Conamara.
The regional authority responsible for economic growth in the Galway Gaeltacht confirmed it has appointed an international engineering firm to develop a masterplan for an offshore wind energy hub on Údaras-owned lands in Ros a’ Mhíl.
Atkins is a British firm headquartered in London, England with offices in Ireland, including Parkmore in Galway City.
The hub, according to an Údarás-commissioned feasibility study published several months ago, could support up to 900 jobs in the Conamara Gaeltacht, serving multiple floating and fixed wind farms off the west coast.
“The development of Ros a’ Mhíl as an offshore wind energy hub is likely to have a profound impact, not just on the economy of the Gaeltacht regions of Conamara and the Aran Islands but also on Ireland’s ability to lessen its energy independence,” said Údarás CEO, Micheál Ó hÉanaigh.
Earlier this year, Government signalled its support for a €25million investment in a new harbour at Ros a’ Mhíl.
This new masterplan to be carried out by Atkins will involve planning the port development, carrying out an economic assessment, and detailing the engineering and logistical requirements.
It will also involve creating a ‘Green Port Development plan’ with a view of attaining Net-Zero operations, which means cutting the greenhouse gas emissions of the harbour to as close to zero as possible.
The development lies in the heart of the Conamara Gaeltacht and Údarás said Atkins employed local Irish-speaking engineers as core team members of the project.
Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) welcomed progress of the project. “Never has it been more vital that we use our vast offshore wind resource to create renewable energy and ensure the security of our own energy supply,” he said.
Outdated parking meters set to be replaced
All old pay and display parking meters throughout County Galway towns are in line to be replaced.
Galway County Council has confirmed that it was planning to replace the existing outdated machines with new ones.
It comes after the County Council’s audit committee said that the cost of maintaining the existing stock of pay and display machines was ‘extremely high’.
The audit committee also noted that there were ‘resounding issues with the outdated parking meters’ for users and for Council maintenance.
The Council said that the replacement of its parking machines inventory was ‘ongoing’.
Funding had been set aside in its capital account to replace outdated machines.
Councillor Karey McHugh (Ind) argued that technology should be introduced whereby motorists could use an app to pay for a parking space.
Director of Services, Derek Pender, said the new machines could use coins and card payments through a ‘tap and go’ system.
The software was also available for the machines to be compatible with the app Cllr McHugh had suggested, which was in operation in Limerick, Tipperary and other local authority areas.