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Jury ordered to find knife attack duo ‘not guilty’ on technicality

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A judge has directed a jury to find two city youths not guilty of a knife attack on another youth two years ago, following a three-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

Marcus MacComascaigh (20), with addresses in Fana Glas, Ballybane, and Cur na Lus, Circular Road, and a now 18-year-old youth – who cannot be named because he was 16 at the time of the alleged offence – had both denied a charge of assaulting Dominic Downes, then aged 18, causing him harm, at Church Alley, Ballymoneen Road, Knocknacarra, in the early hours of Saturday morning September 27, 2014, when they appeared for trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

A jury was sworn in to hear evidence in the trial which was expected to take two to three days.

Outlining the State’s case, prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy told the jury Mr Downes had sustained a number of stab wounds to his back and shoulder and had been hit with a bicycle lock.

He said Mr Downes had been in a number of pubs in the city on the Friday night celebrating a friend’s 18th birthday.

He went home in the early hours of the morning and his brother and a female friend were in the house. They continued drinking and the girl decided to make a prank call to the juvenile.

The juvenile figured out the phone call came from Mr Downes’ phone and he rang him, arranging to meet him in the alleyway beside Knocknacarra Church.

Before he left to meet the juvenile, Mr Downes took a butterfly knife with him for his own protection.

When he arrived at the alley, he was confronted by the two accused.

The juvenile pulled out a knife and swung it at Mr Downes, cutting him over his right eye.

Mr Downes pulled out the butterfly knife but dropped it.

The juvenile then swung his knife again, cutting Mr Downes’ arm.

Mr Downes kicked the juvenile, knocking him to the ground.  He then walked away, but the juvenile came after him.

Mr Fahy said MacComascaigh then joined in the assault and held Downes in a headlock, while the juvenile stabbed him a number of times in the back.

The juvenile then took out a bicycle lock and hit Downes.

He eventually managed to free himself and make his way home. He was later treated in hospital for his injuries.

Mr Downes had refused to come to court to give evidence in the trial and in the absence of the jury, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Detective Fergal Kilbane executed the warrant and brought Mr Downes to court in custody the next day. Jurors were unaware he was in Garda custody at all times during the trial.

Mr Downes was called as a witness for the prosecution on and was questioned by Mr Fahy. He told the jury he didn’t remember what happened that night.

In reply to Mr Fahy, he said he remembered he had been drinking in town but said he could not remember anything after that.

Following further questioning, Mr Downes said he remembered drinking later when he got home, but could not remember anything after that.

Legal submissions were made to the court in the absence of the jury by two barristers who represented both accused under the Free Legal Aid scheme, regarding Mr Downes’ unwillingness to give evidence.

Following their submissions, Judge Rory McCabe ruled Mr Downes’ statement, which he had made to Gardai, was inadmissible in the trial as he could not be cross-examined by both defence teams if it was allowed into evidence.

Mr Fahy informed the court that the State was not offering any further evidence in the case and the trial could not proceed.

Judge McCabe then directed the jury foreman to enter a verdict of “not guilty by direction of the trial judge” in relation to both accused.

Judge McCabe said to MacComascaigh and to the juvenile, who is serving sentences for other offences: “You’re both discharged for the present, but I’m sure we will be seeing you again.”

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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