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Gardaí discover €3,000 of heroin in young mum’s bedroom




A young mother who was using a bag of heroin a day and was found with €3,000 of the drug stashed in her bedroom would have been dead soon if Gardai had not found her, a court has heard.

Judge Marie Keane said this was “last chance saloon” for Sarah Howlett (27), of 323 Castle Park, Ballybane, when she pleaded guilty at Galway District Court to a plethora of shoplifting, handling stolen goods and drug-dealing charges, committed across the city since succumbing to the highly addictive drug.

Howlett pleaded guilty to stealing expensive, new release DVDs from Zhivago on Shop Street on July 4 last year.

She pleaded guilty to stealing more popular console games from Cex, Williamsgate Street, and handling the games from the store, knowing they were stolen on six different dates in June and July of this year.

Howlett also pleaded guilty to having €3,000 worth of heroin in her bedroom on January 21 last and having the drug for sale or supply.

She further pleaded guilty to stealing perfume and headphones from TX Maxx which were recovered, and a €400 Dyson vacuum cleaner from Curry’s in Terryland last month which was not recovered.

She finally pleaded guilty to stealing groceries and kids’ toys from Tesco at Galway Shopping Centre and to stealing other items from Homestore and More in Wellpark.

Handing letters from the HSE into court, defence solicitor, Olivia Traynor said her client has a very serious heroin addiction which she has been battling for some time.

She said Howlett’s situation was “absolutely dire” when Gardai raided her home in January and found the heroin.  Howlett’s children are already in care and their father died in tragic circumstances, Ms Traynor added.

“She was using a bag of heroin a day and Gardai feel she will be dead in a very short period of time if she does not get help,” Mr Traynor said.

She said Howlett had been discharged from the Beaumont Stabilisation Unit on April 5 last and was making every effort to get herself ‘clean’ before these offences were committed.

Ms Traynor said Howlett committed the offence to get money “to get her next fix”.

“When I saw her back in January she was in a very bad place. She looks a lot better now,” Ms Traynor said.

She asked Judge Marie Keane to adjourn sentence and give Howlett a chance to link in with the support services and see if she would engage with the probation service and get more help for her addiction.

Judge Keane said Howlett was quite a menace to Cex.

“She is repeatedly going in there to steal the most up-to-date box sets, including the Love/Hate one,” she observed.

Mr Traynor said Howlett had brought items into Cex to sell, and that was how she was caught and charged with handling stolen property.

Those offences, she pointed out, occurred between June 30 and July 8 last and were all committed to feed the heroin addiction.

Noting Howlett’s drug charges were serious, Judge Keane said she was faced with a dilemma.

“If I send her to jail – where she should go to protect the retailers of Galway – I’m concerned that her drug addiction is likely to get worse rather than better,” she said.

Judge Keane said it was with great reluctance she would order a probation report on Howlett prior to sentence.

She adjourned the matter to October for a probation report and told Howlett it was “last chance saloon” for her. “I’m sure you have the Gardai tormented,” the judge added.

Howlett, who looked pale and gaunt and who hugged her handbag to her chest during the hearing, promised Judge Keane she would co-operate with the probation service.


Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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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Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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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Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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