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Man had part of ear bitten off in unprovoked attack

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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.

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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