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CITY TRIBUNE

Gang leader jailed for racially-motivated assault

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The racially-motivated attack happened in broad daylight in Eyre Square.

The leader of a gang of youths who were involved in muggings and sometimes racially-motivated assaults around the city over the last number of years has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Tom Williams (20), Cluain Fada, Headford Road, actually received sentences totalling seven-and-a-half years at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last week, but the final four years were suspended on condition he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years on his release from prison.

Williams pleaded guilty at a previous court hearing to a charge of violent disorder, in that he along with three others acting together used or threatened to use violence in Eyre Square on May 4, 2018.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting an Afghan national, causing him harm, on the same date.

Williams further pleaded guilty to robbing a mobile phone from another youth on March 14, 2018, and to assaulting the victim’s father when he asked Williams to return his son’s phone.

Sergeant Paul McNulty told the sentence hearing Williams was the leader of a gang which had no regard for law or order.

He said Williams and three others assaulted two young Afghan asylum seekers outside Cafe Express in Eyre Square at around 1.30pm on May 4, 2018.

“Tom Williams instigated the assault and oversaw it as his gang members carried it out,” Sgt McNulty said.

The victims later told Gardai they noticed a group of black males staring at them. The males called them terrorists and asked them what were they doing in this country.

One of the males, later identified from CCTV as Tom Williams, suddenly stuck one of the Afghan youths into the side of his head using his mobile phone as a weapon. The victim fell to the ground where he was punched and kicked by the gang.  A member of staff from a nearby cafe, who came to the victim’s aid, was punched into the face by another gang member.

Sgt McNulty said Eyre Square was packed with people at the time this vicious, unprovoked assault took place.

Garda Neil Lydon gave evidence Williams robbed a young boy of his mobile phone and rucksack in the Eyre Square shopping centre on March 14, 2018.

The victim was put in fear and he ran to the taxi rank where his father worked.

Garda Lydon said the victim’s father knew Williams’ father, who is also a taxi driver.

Later that evening the man went to a house where Williams was staying and asked for his son’s belongings.

Williams punched him a number of times in the head, face and body before hitting him across the head with a large salt shaker.

Garda Lydon said the man made an official complaint to him the next day.

“He was quite upset because in his culture, it’s very insulting for a young person to attack a man of his age,” Garda Lydon explained.

Garda Lydon said that neither the man nor his son wanted to give a victim impact statement.  He said the son continued to live in fear of the accused and the robbery and subsequent attack on his father had totally changed his life.

In reply to defence barrister, Conal McCarthy, Garda Lydon said he was not aware of Williams having any drink or drug problem.  He said the accused lived with his father in Cluain Fada, while his mother lived in Knocknacarra.

Sgt McNulty confirmed Williams had 33 previous convictions and was out on two separate sets of High Court bail for 18 other offences at the   time he committed the offences before the court.

He said the accused had two convictions for robberies, one for affray, one for the production of a weapon in the course of a dispute, four for assaults, and the rest for deception, possession of stolen property and drugs.

Sgt McNulty said he knew Williams since he was convicted of assaulting a Polish national when he was 13.

He said Williams was of Nigerian origin and was the leader of a gang of youths in the city who had no regard for the law.

Mr McCarthy said his client had been abusing alcohol and drugs for many years and he was intoxicated at the time of the assault on the taxi driver.

Sgt McNulty said that while he knew Williams for several years he was not aware he had a drink or drug addiction, as suggested by counsel.

Mr McCarthy said his client had also been the victim of racial abuse while in school.

Sgt McNulty was sceptical of this, pointing out that Williams was well over six feet tall since he was 13. “He’s a big lad,” he added.

Judge Rory McCabe said the latest probation report on Williams was very bleak, placing him at a high risk of reoffending and it left him with no option when imposing sentence but to discount any hope of rehabilitation.

For their role in the Eyre Square attacks, other gang members, Goodnews Onyenweson, received a four-year sentence with the final nine months suspended in May of last year, while Mourthadha Badiane received a suspended three-year sentence. A juvenile, who cannot be named, also received a suspended sentence.

CITY TRIBUNE

Whopping repayments for City Hall’s move

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Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath: Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Council suggested that senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year before the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices there. If they did meet, no minutes exist.

The total cost to repay the loan required to execute Galway City Council’s planned purchase of new offices to accommodate a move from City Hall will be €63.1 million, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

It means the City Council will have to find €2m every year for 30 years in its own revenue budget to repay the mortgage, which could impact on the level of service it delivers to the public or may require an increase in charges or commercial rates.

Separately, a Council reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request suggests senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year prior to the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices – and if they did meet, no minutes exist.

In its loan sanction application form, submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the City Council applied for permission to borrow €45.4 million.

This is to cover the bulk of the cost of the €56.5m total capital outlay associated with moving from City Hall and relocating all Galway City Council employees from College Road to the new Crown Square offices in Mervue.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hunt on for new courthouse to tackle explosion in cases

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Galway Courthouse: Limited facilities there make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

The Courts Service is scouring the city for rental property to accommodate Galway Courthouse.

Commercial real estate advisors, Avison Young have been hired to source suitable property in the city centre.

The company published an advert in Galway City Tribune last week outlining the Courts Service’s property requirement of suitable commercial or office space of 1,800-2,000 metres squared.

Avison Young said the space should be in the city centre and be available to lease.

On-site parking is required, and it needs to be available for “immediate occupation”.

The move comes after the Galway City Tribune revealed earlier this month that victims of serious crime are waiting up to three years for justice because Galway’s limited court facilities make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

Due to an explosion in the number of cases sent for trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, the wait for a trial date is between 24 and 36 months.

The Courts Service confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was looking for a new courthouse and office space facilities.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Stars align as Teapots finally stage Into the Dark Woods

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Blue Teapot director Petal Pilley with cast members Michael Hayes and Valerie Egan ahead of the show.

Into the Dark Woods

Blue Teapot at the Black Box

REVIEW BY JUDY MURPHY

After several false dawns, Blue Teapot Theatre Company finally got to stage its long-awaited drama, Into the Dark Woods, in the city’s Black Box Theatre last week. A Galway 2020 commission, and written by company member Charlene Kelly, it was originally meant to be presented more than two years ago.

Blue Teapot is made up of actors with intellectual disabilities and Charlene is one of its best-known performers, but this marked her first foray into writing, supported by dramaturg Eileen Gibbons. The production, directed by the company’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley, has done her proud.

It’s a short, moving, sometimes humorous piece about two young people with intellectual disabilities from very different backgrounds, who get lost in the woods where they are confronted by various demons and monsters.

Jennifer Cox plays Sharon whose grandmother (Mary Monaghan-McHugh) has taught her to be independent and outward looking, while Kieran Coppinger is a prince who has been cocooned in a nearby castle by his father (Midie Corcoran), a king who feels his son isn’t capable of inheriting the throne.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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