Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Father jailed for sex attack on daughter’s six-year-old friend



A 45-year-old Galway man has been sentenced to five years in prison with the final two years suspended for sexually assaulting his daughter’s best friend during a Hallowe’en sleep-over at his home.

Gerry Hopkins, 8 Pairc na gCaor, Moycullen, pleaded guilty when he first appeared before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in October, 2016 to sexually assaulting the then 6-years-old victim on the night of October 27, 2015.  The case was adjourned to May 2017 for the preparation of reports.

The girl’s father read his and his wife’s victim impact statement to the court last year in which he said Hopkins had shown their daughter no mercy during the 30-minute attack.

The little girl had been at a Hallowe’en party in Hopkins’ home and was allowed to sleep over with her best friend as both sets of parents had been good friends prior to the incident.

The girls were asleep in bed that night when Hopkins got into the bed beside them, leaned over his own daughter and subjected the victim to a prolonged sexual assault.

The little girl woke and then pretended to be asleep while Hopkins sexually assaulted her.

“She cried out in pain when he began to hurt her. He waited for her to stop crying before continuing to again assault her forcefully. The assault lasted 30 minutes,” Garda Paul Duffy told the court last year. He described Hopkins as “a bit of a loner who had no friends”.

The child told her mother about the assault when she was getting her ready for bed the following night.

Hopkins initially denied assaulting the child during two Garda interviews. He said his memory was vague due to his intoxication on the night but he finally admitted he could see no reason why the child would make up the allegation.

The child’s father became upset when he recalled how his daughter had to suffer the added trauma of being stripped naked and examined and questioned by strangers after the complaint was made.

“He reached over his own sleeping daughter to sexually assault our child. He showed her no sympathy or mercy and when she stopped crying he abused her again,” the tearful father said.

The man said his daughter could not sleep alone anymore and she whimpers in her sleep and pushes him away when he tries to comfort her.

He said Hopkins stole his daughter’s ability to trust adults and her innocence and trust in the world had gone. She had told her parents to tell Hopkins that he had hurt her a lot and scared her.

In contrast, Hopkins’ partner told the court last year he was an “extremely kind, warm and loving person” and a good father.

The court heard Hopkins had to move out of the family home following the complaint while the child protection agency, Tusla, carried out a risk assessment of his own children’s safety. It found his children were not at risk of abuse and he was allowed to return home.

Placing Hopkins on the Sex Offender’s Register, Judge Rory McCabe indicated a five-year sentence with two suspended was the appropriate sanction.

However, noting that a risk assessment of Hopkins by the probation service was incomplete, he deferred sentence for one year – to last week’s court – on condition Hopkins attend all probation service appointments in the interim and comply with all of its directions.

Prosecuting barrister, Geri Silke, told the sentence hearing last week that the girl’s parents wanted Hopkins named in the media.

John Kiely SC, defending, said Hopkins was no longer drinking and had abided by all of the bail conditions.  He was also attending a Safer Lives sex offenders programme in Dublin once a week.

Judge McCabe said a custodial sentence was unavoidable given the “gross betrayal of trust and breach of friendship” by the accused.

Imposing the five-year sentence on Hopkins, the judge said the gravity of the offence required a punitive element and that rehabilitation thus far would be reflected in the suspension of the final two years of that sentence.

The final two years were suspended on condition Hopkins not reoffend and come under the supervision of the probation service for 18 months post release from prison. He is to complete the Safer Lives programme and comply with all directions of the probation service.


Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

Continue Reading


Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

Continue Reading


City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads