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Heartless thief stole €40,000 from his grieving aunt

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A 24-year-old burglar ransacked his aunt’s home, stealing over €40,000 worth of her jewellery and other items while she was attending the funeral of her sister, who had died suddenly.

Cian Cantwell, with addresses at Nun’s Island and 9 Ard na Gaoithe, Upper Clybaun Road, Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in March to entering a house in Monalee Heights, Knocknacarra, as a trespasser between October 10 and 11, 2013, with intent to commit theft.

Sentence was adjourned to last week for the preparation of reports. Garda John Horkan told the sentence hearing one of Cantwell’s aunts died suddenly and Cantwell knew his other aunt and her husband would be away attending the funeral.

He broke a kitchen window to gain entry to the house, which he then ransacked, stealing his aunt’s jewellery, two televisions, a safe, a video, laptop and printer. The woman’s husband, who is a retired Garda, read a victim impact statement to the court.

He said his wife suffered from a serious mental illness and this burglary had plunged her into a deep depression, from which she had not recovered.

He said his wife had been very good to her nephew down through the years and she was devastated when she heard he had burgled her home.

Her husband said all of his wife’s jewellery, including her engagement ring, which was of great sentimental value, was taken and never returned.

Special purchases the couple had made during a cruise they had taken together following his retirement, were also stolen and could never be replaced, he said.

He said he knew immediately on entering the house, that the burglar knew exactly where everything was and must be someone they knew.

“In her will, she had left her jewellery to her granddaughter and there’s nothing left now to leave her.

“He just didn’t steal her possessions, but also my wife’s health,” the man said.

Defence barrister, Geri Silke said her client did not intentionally target his aunt’s house and didn’t know whose house he had broken into.

She said he was “off his head” on drugs at the time and when he “came to” and realised what he had done he became very remorseful, went immediately to the Gardai and handed himself in.

“He would not like you to think he targeted his poor aunt.  He has done everything since to rehabilitate himself and is now off all drugs and doing everything he can to stay out of trouble,” Ms Silke said to Judge Rory McCabe.

She asked him to adjourn sentence for a year so that her client could get the treatment he needed.

“He has changed as a human-being as a result of this,” Ms Silke added.

Judge McCabe told Cantwell this was a despicable crime, committed against his own aunt who was grieving the loss of her sister at the time.

“The harm you caused is ongoing and is never likely to be healed.

“This was a callous, thoughtless and wanton crime by the accused who put his own needs before those of others.

“The court cannot accept his expression of remorse is genuine,” Judge McCabe said.

He indicated the crime merited a six-year sentence, with two years taken off for the plea, thus sparing his aunt from having to give evidence at his trial.

That left four years, he said, and as the accused was currently engaged in a process of rehabilitation, he said he would allow him complete that before finalising sentence this time next year.

The degree to which Cantwell engaged with the rehabilitation services in the interim would determine how much of the four-year sentence he would serve next year, the judge said.

“He obviously didn’t tell anybody where the stolen items went or try to get them back. There may be no way of avoiding a custodial sentence, but we will wait the year,” Judge McCabe added.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
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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