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Man gets four months’ prison for exposing himself to bus passengers


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Man gets four months’ prison for exposing himself to bus passengers Man gets four months’ prison for exposing himself to bus passengers

A convicted rapist has been sentenced to four months in prison for exposing himself on a bus as it was travelling along the Headford Road towards Galway City on two consecutive days last summer.

61-year-old Gareth Rooney, 67 Caireal Mór, Headford Road, Galway, who has been on the Sex Offenders Register since his 1995 conviction for the rape, assault and false imprisonment of a woman in England, was also given a consecutive six-month sentence at Galway District Court for failing to notify Galway gardaí he had changed address, on a date between May 25 and June 4 last, as required under the provisions of Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

Rooney came to court – knowing he would be going to prison – with his rucksack packed, and pleaded guilty to breaching the terms of the Sex Offenders Register as outlined above.

He also pleaded guilty to two further charges of exposing his genitals on a Bus Éireann bus travelling along the Headford Road on May 31, and again on June 1 last, intending to cause fear, distress or alarm to another person, contrary to Section 45 (1) of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

Sergeant Stan O’Grady, prosecuting, said the bus driver on both occasions stopped the bus on the Headford Road and waited for gardaí to arrive following complaints from passengers that Rooney was exposing himself.

Gardaí viewed CCTV from the bus on June 1 and again from the previous morning which captured Rooney repeating the act in front of passengers of various ages.

When Rooney was brought before Galway District Court on October 3 last in relation to the exposure charges, Judge Mary Cashin who was presiding that day, asked to see the CCTV footage from both dates to help her decide on whether or not to accept jurisdiction to have the charges dealt with at District Court level.

On viewing the CCTV in open court, Judge Cashin accepted jurisdiction and remanded Rooney on bail to appear before this week’s court.

Detective Gerry Carroll gave evidence this week he was responsible for checking Rooney was complying with the terms of the Sex Offenders Register since he came to live at an address in Galway City centre in December 2013.

He said Rooney had received seven years for the rape and three years for the false imprisonment charge, along with a concurrent three years for the assault charge at Ipswich Crown Court on March 21, 2005.

He said he was detailed to monitor him in Galway since 2013 and would call on him twice a year to check in on him.

He got no reply when he called to the apartment on January 2 last. He phoned Rooney who told him he had moved in with a friend in Caireal Mór.

Det Carroll said Rooney admitted to him he had moved into the Headford Road address ten days earlier.

Det Carroll said he outlined to Rooney his obligations under the Sex Offenders Act that he should have notified the gardaí of moving address.

In reply to Judge Mary Fahy, Rooney said he and the woman had a platonic friendship.

Det Carroll confirmed to the judge the woman knew of Rooney’s obligations under the Sex Offenders Act.  He said the accused had updated his address details on the register as soon as he had contacted him.

“In fairness to him, I don’t think he realised the seriousness of what he was doing at the time, but at the same time he knew well he had done wrong,” Det Carroll said.

Defence solicitor, Olivia Traynor, said Rooney had always complied with the requirements since moving to Galway in 2013.

“Having spent ten years in prison for serious offences and now we are faced with him on two occasions exposing his genitals on a bus.

“Anybody doing it would be disturbing, but when someone with serious previous convictions like he has is doing it, the court has to mark it,” Judge Fahy said.

Ms Traynor said her client first appeared before the court two weeks previously in relation to the charges and had indicated a plea to all of them then.

“He knows how serious this is and he’s under no illusion about what the court will do and has to do.  He was identified at the scene on June 1 and also the day before,” she said.

A victim impact statement was provided to the court by one of the passengers. Judge Fahy read the statement but did not divulge much of its contents.

However, the judge said that while the woman was very upset that someone would do this twice on a bus packed with people, including young children, she would be even more upset to learn now if she were in court that the accused was a convicted sex offender who had served ten years in jail.

“How do you think she will feel?  She will be extremely frightened. And he did it two days in a row.  I’m sure there were others who saw him and didn’t want to get involved.

“This lady was on the bus on her way to work, so she has been terrified and discommoded by this man and she was upset too because there were young children on the bus,” Judge Fahy said, referring to the woman’s impact statement.

Mr Traynor asked the court to consider linking her client in with the probation service on his release from any sentence the court would be imposing.

Noting there were going to be changes made to the Sex Offenders Register legislation as it was not easy to monitor at present, Judge Fahy said Rooney should have been totally compliant, having served ten years in prison and in the circumstances, she said, she was imposing six months in prison for that offence.

She imposed a consecutive four-month prison term for the exposure offence committed on the bus on June 1.  A further four-month term was imposed for the offence committed on May 31, which was suspended for two years on condition Rooney link in with the probation service for six months of his release from prison.

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