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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

Covid could leave Galway City Council with €25m budget hole

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop STreet this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is facing into a “potential crisis scenario” with a forecasted €25 million black hole in its budget, unless the Government comes good on a promise to plug the gap left by Covid-19.

That’s according to City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath who told councillors this week that the commercial rates waiver introduced by Government and a drop in income from goods and services provided by the local authority could slash their forecast annual revenue by 25%.

Mr McGrath said the last Government, when it introduced the rates waiver for cash-strapped businesses in March, had committed to €260 million to be put aside to bolster local authority finances, but no detail of how that will be rolled out had been provided.

“We are hoping as part of the July stimulus package, the new Government will give us the detail we so desperately need,” he said.

“Our rates standing orders have been wiped out to the tune of 90%.”

Tourism was crucial to the economic success of Galway, he continued, with approximately 80% of city businesses reliant on tourists to stay afloat.

“We have the highest percentage dependency of any local authority on rates from the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Mr McGrath.

It was for that reason that the Executive was seeking councillors’ approval to free up €485,000 of the so-called ‘Marketing Sinking Fund’ to finance a raft of tourism initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy by attracting domestic tourists as Covid-related restrictions are eased, in what Mr McGrath referred to as “temporary internal borrowing”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, and more on the tourism promotion plans, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Seafront prom and new train station planned for Murrough

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A vision of a new urban district on GMIT lands at Murrough – including a seafront promenade and new train station – has been submitted to Government for funding approval.

Galway City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has outlined a plan to ‘leverage’ land and resources of the third level institute to create a new East City Urban District.

Mr McGrath has included the plans in an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

The total value of the project would be €61 million, he said, which values the land at Murrough at about €14 million.

“We are seeking URDF investment to activate these sites as catalysts to boost population and economic output for the city and region,” Mr McGrath told city councillors.

He said that by leveraging the lands at GMIT, the Council was delivering on a target in the National Planning Framework 2040, which states there should be “special focus on capitalising on the potential of underutilised and publicly owned and centrally located sites”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plans to double size of Galway City student complex

Enda Cunningham

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A computer-generated image of how the new Cúirt na Coiribe would look.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The investment fund which owns the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation complex on the Headford Road is planning to more than double the number of bed spaces there to 920.

Exeter Property Group, one of the biggest property investment groups in the world, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to demolish a two-storey building to the front of the development and to remove the existing fifth floor attic level from the next block.

The proposal involves extending upwards and outwards to create a total of 920 bed spaces in 868 bedrooms in a single building with nine linked blocks ranging from two to six storeys.

The project includes a gym/fitness studio in the basement, a games room, library/study spaces, café/restaurant and lounge spaces.

There will be 59 carparking spaces and 656 cycle spaces included. A total of 398 of the 405 existing bed spaces will be retained.

It is proposed that the existing bed spaces will retain their original planning permission which allows for short-stay lets throughout the year, and the additional 515 spaces would only be permitted to be used as short-stay lets during the summer months.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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