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CITY TRIBUNE

Judge bites back at ‘vampire’ taxi passenger

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A back-seat passenger bit a taxi driver on the neck before telling him she was a vampire who loved blood.

Polish national, Alexandra Kruzel (38), was living in an apartment at Cuan na Coille, Bishop O’Donnell Road, at the time of the attack five years ago before moving to Germany.

The shocked taxi driver drove to Galway Garda Station and reported the incident immediately after he had dropped Kruzel at her address on March 22, 2014.

She was subsequently charged with two counts of assaulting the man as he drove along Seamus Quirke Road in the early hours of the morning.

A bench warrant was issued for Kruzel’s arrest when she subsequently failed to show up in court to answer the charges.

The warrant was executed last month on her return to Galway when she was arrested while intoxicated at Spanish Arch.

She appeared on bail before Galway District Court this week where she pleaded guilty to one of the assault charges.

Sergeant Cathal Rodgers, prosecuting, withdrew the second assault charge following the plea to the first.

He said the taxi driver had picked up the woman outside Karma nightclub around 1.30am and while driving along, she leaned forward and bit him on the left side of his neck, holding on for 30 seconds.

He pulled over and pleaded with her to let go and not break the skin.

“Eventually, she let go after 30 seconds, sat back and started laughing,” Sergeant Rodgers told the court.

The accused, he said, told the driver: “I am a vampire and I love blood.”

A black and white photo was handed into court, faintly showing a mark on the man’s neck, just under his left ear.  The skin was not broken.

Defence solicitor, Valerie Corcoran, said Kruzel’s instructions to her were that she didn’t want to hurt or cause harm to the man.

“She had a lot of drink taken.  I don’t know why, but she thought he liked her. She says she did what she did in an affectionate manner,” Ms Corcoran submitted.

“That’s a new one. Are you saying she intended to give him a love bite?” Judge Fahy asked.

Sgt Rodgers discounted this, observing the taxi driver was a middle-aged man.

Ms Corcoran put her client’s action down to the level of her inebriation on the night.

Judge Fahy became concerned that the taxi driver’s identity might become known though the media.

“The impression is that she was giving him a love bite, but that is not accepted by this court or by the State. The fact that he was a middle-aged man doesn’t matter,” the judge said.

Ms Corcoran agreed.

“The man was giving a service and acting completely professionally. My client lunged at the man and bit his neck, completely inappropriately. I can understand why he’s not in court. The man is completely innocent.

“He dropped her home and correctly went to the Garda Station to report the incident because it was clearly inappropriate.  I do not think there was any badness intended,” the solicitor said.

Kruzel, she said, is a Polish national now living and working in Germany for the last five years.

“She can’t understand why she did this and she forgot about it after moving to Germany. It came to light when she returned here to visit a friend.”

Sgt Rodgers confirmed there had been no conversation between the taxi driver and Kruzel before the attack happened.

Judge Fahy said it was important to note that, as there had been cases before the court in the past where inappropriate conversations had taken place, that was not the case here.

Judge Fahy said she would apply a monetary penalty and the taxi driver should be contacted to see if he was interested in getting compensation from his attacker.

Ms Corcoran informed the court her client’s phone and wallet had been stolen from her on the evening she was arrested at the Spanish Arch and she had no money on her.

Kruzel said a friend would have to send her money to pay for her fare back to Germany.

She admitted she had not reported the phone or wallet stolen to Gardai.

Judge Fahy said she didn’t believe Kruzel and in light of her comments, she said she didn’t believe the taxi driver would be interested in compensation either.

Taking into account the fact Kruzel had no previous convictions, Judge Fahy sentenced her to three months in prison for the assault and suspended the sentence for 12 months on condition she be of good behaviour and remain sober in public.  Leave to appeal was granted.

Ms Corcoran assured the court her client would be going back to Germany.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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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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