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Man had part of ear bitten off in unprovoked attack



A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in prison for biting off part of another man’s ear in an unprovoked assault in Eyre Square last year.

James Ward, 50 Gaelcarrig Park, Newcastle, appeared in custody before Galway Circuit Criminal Court, as he is already serving a total of twelve months in prison for a series of other assaults.

Ward pleaded guilty earlier this year to assaulting the 19-year-old man, causing him harm, at Eyre Square on March 20 last year and sentence was adjourned for the preparation of an impact statement from the victim and a probation report on the accused.

Garda Ronan Leonard told the sentence hearing a young County Clare man was sitting in Eyre Square with his girlfriend and a group of other friends at 5pm on the day in question when Ward came along and leaned in towards the victim.

Garda Leonard said the victim thought Ward wanted to say something to him and he leaned forward. Then, for no reason, Ward bit the top half of the young man’s right ear off before walking away.

Garda Leonard said the victim was in great pain and distress and without thinking he just started walking away from Eyre Square. He walked all the way out to GMIT and got on a bus which brought him home to County Clare.

In his victim impact statement, which Garda Leonard read on his behalf to the court, the victim said he was in a state of shock at the time and he just wanted to get out of Galway City as fast as he could.

He realised when he got home that the top half of his ear was missing.

He had to undergo surgery to stitch the wound, and more of the ear had to be removed where Ward’s teeth marks could be seen.

In his impact statement, the victim said he walked quickly out of Eyre Square and Galway City after the attack because he didn’t feel safe.

He said he did not want to come to court because he feared Ward or his friends would attack him.

He said he hated it when people asked him about his ear now.

“The assault has ruined my life. It has turned my life upside-down.

“I wasn’t the most confident person before this happened and I’m worse now,” he said.

Garda Leonard said Ward had four previous convictions. Two were for serious assaults, one was for a less serious assault, and one was for sending obscene and threatening text messages.

Ward, he said, was currently serving sentences totalling twelve months and was due for release in October.

Defence barrister, John Hogan, said his client pleaded guilty to this attack at the earliest opportunity.  This, he said, had spared the victim from having to give evidence and he would have known for a long time that he would not have to come to court.

He said he asked Ward why he had not proffered an apology to the victim and Ward told him he had been warned as part of his bail conditions not to make any contact with the victim.

Ward wrote a letter of apology which was handed into court. In it, he said he had been drinking and taking prescription drugs at the time of the assault.

He said he had seen his father dead when he was 13 and he had been bullied as a youngster because he had bad eyesight. He claimed he was also angry because some of his friends had committed suicide.

Mr Hogan said Ward was doing very well in prison. He was attending several educational classes and had applied to do an anger management course as well.

In his letter to Judge Rory McCabe, which was read out to the court, Ward said: “I’ve seen what prison is like and it’s not the life for me.”

Mr Hogan conceded a negative report from the probation service was of concern and his client knew he was going to get a custodial sentence for this latest assault.

“He is appalled by his own actions and he wants to apologise to the victim now,” Mr Hogan added.

Judge McCabe said alcohol, drugs and a propensity towards violence contributed to Ward inflicting this horrendous injury.

He said the accused offered no explanation for his actions and had been dishonest in his dealings with the probation service as stated in its report to the court.

The victim impact statement was “disturbing” and it related the victim’s ongoing fear of Ward, the judge noted.

He placed the offence at the top end of the scale of gravity, bearing in mind, he said, Ward’s previous convictions for violent assaults and his lack of insight into his victim’s suffering, as reported by the probation service.

“His expression that he would ‘consider’ apologising is the way the probation service reported his attitude and the service is of the view that he was not committed to apologising at all,” Judge McCabe said.

He said Ward had been untruthful in the past so he had no confidence in his attempts to convince the court that he was interested in rehabilitation.

“It’s no more than a last-minute attempt to ‘sweeten the bitter pill’.

“He’s expressed remorse now through his barrister, but only he knows if he means it; if he is sorry for what he did, or merely sorry for being caught,” Judge McCabe said.

He then sentenced Ward to three years in prison, the sentence to run concurrently to the sentences he is already serving.


Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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