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CITY TRIBUNE

Jail for weightlifter who pinned woman on bed and assaulted her

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A nightclub bouncer pinned a woman face-down on his bed and violently assaulted her as she struggled to get free from his grip, a court has heard.

Bodybuilder and former gym instructor, Raymond Stewart (30), from Drumaveg, Moycullen, who has represented Ireland at weightlifting competitions abroad, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting the young woman, causing injuries to her back, neck, shoulder, hip, arms and a laceration to her upper lip at his rented accommodation in Galway on February 11 last year. He also pleaded guilty to a second charge of falsely imprisoning her against her will.

The court heard the victim, her boyfriend and a male friend were socialising in the Four Aces Casino earlier that night and met Stewart outside afterwards.  They didn’t know him but he invited them back to his house for a party.

He gave them drink at his house.

The woman’s next recollection was waking up face-down on a bed in an upstairs bedroom. Stewart was on top of her.

She said he covered her mouth with his left hand and his right hand  was  “ripping” at her.   She had trouble breathing but she began to   struggle with him, managing to pinch his neck with one free hand while trying to break free.

She said the straps on the top she was wearing broke in the struggle and her breasts were exposed.  The struggle went on for a long time and he kept telling her to ‘stop’.

She kept pinching and screaming at him and he eventually let her go, she said.

She ran downstairs and found her boyfriend outside the property, wandering in a disorientated state.

They went to the Garda Station at 8am that morning to report the incident.

Garda Diarmuid Cloonan said the woman was in a very distressed state when he met her.  She attended the sexual assault unit and photographs were taken of extensive bruising to several areas on her body.

A medical report stated considerable force had been used to cause such bruising to the woman’s body.

The woman did not want to be in court but her victim impact statement was read into evidence.

In it, she said she no longer felt safe in other people’s houses and disliked going upstairs on her own any more.

Garda Cloonan said Stewart had seven previous convictions and this offence had been committed while he was out on bail.

Stewart expressed remorse for his actions.  He said he drank several double whiskeys that night and had also taken testosterone enhancing steroids which he knew made him aggressive.

Mr John Kiely, SC, defending, said his client lived with his mother and two brothers in Moycullen.

His father had died suddenly in front of him when he was young and that had a serious effect on his client, he said.

“He has significant prowess in weightlifting and has represented Ireland abroad,” Mr Kiely added.

The court heard Stewart had been a licensed security man working at various night-clubs prior to this conviction.

Judge Rory McCabe said this serious incident took place late at night when a lot of alcohol had been consumed.

“The victim was tired and disorientated.  That was obvious to the accused because of the account he gave to Gardai.

“He took advantage of the situation and the best that can be said is that at one stage, according to his own account, he may have misinterpreted the situation, but once the victim came to her senses that is when the real problem started. She got herself into a situation that she never intended and this resulted in the accused behaving as he did and being charged with very serious offences,” the judge said.

He pointed out the woman’s version of what happened was entirely credible and he hoped she could put this behind her and get on with her life.

Judge McCabe said the headline sentence for each offence was four years in prison, but he said the accused was entitled to 50% credit for the early plea.

He imposed two years on each charge to run concurrently.

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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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