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Man not seen for six months found dead in house




A man who had not been seen for nearly six months, and was presumed to have gone home to his native country, was found dead in a City Council house, an inquiry into his death heard.

The cause of death could not be determined, however, due to the high level of decomposition, and an open verdict was returned.

South African native, Goolam Nabie Shahid Hassim (50), had moved into the house in Fana Búrca, Knocknacarra, with his wife and two step daughters about 13 years previously. It was around the same time as his neighbour, Philomena McDonagh, whom he became friendly with.

She told the inquiry that the marriage broke down in the summer of 2016, after which he became more withdrawn.

“He had been a lovely neighbour up to then, he was friendly,” she said.

“He stopped saying hello to people on the street; he was getting more into his religion.”

She last recalled seeing him in mid-December 2016, as he was heading to the bus stop.

“When I hadn’t seen him in January and February, I started to wonder. I said it to some neighbours, I tried knocking on his door, I then heard that he had gone away for Christmas and I thought he had stayed on longer or something.”

His ex-wife, who was living in Leeds at the time, gave a deposition to say that she had last spoken to him in late August 2016, but had received an email from him on December 12.

“While corresponding with Shahid in emails, he spoke about making a new start – he had a range of ideas, because his immigration status was vulnerable . . . he didn’t want to be deported, he wanted to leave on his own terms,” she stated.

“When I didn’t hear from him, I thought he had left the country, and that he would contact me again when he got sorted.”

She said that her ex-husband, whom she married in 2008, had been depressed and sad that she had left Ireland. He invited her to attend his graduation ceremony in November, but she had been unable to attend.

“We were on good terms and, while corresponding, there was kindness towards each other – there was no bitterness between us.”

Her daughter’s partner, Nigel Goldbey, told the Inquest at Galway Courthouse that he was aware that Mr Hassim had been due to either leave the country or look for work in Dublin. They had arranged with Galway City Council to move into the house at the end of May 2017.

However, they had been unable to contact him, and called to the address on May 12.

“I looked in the living room window, I saw a lot of blue bottle flies dead,” Mr Goldbey said.

“I opened the letter box and I saw all the mail piled up. I felt there was something wrong.”

He kicked in the back door and they entered the house.

“I said to Fern: ‘He is dead, you wait downstairs,’” he said.

He went upstairs and opened a bedroom door, and saw someone on the floor.

“I assume it was Shadid, I had met him briefly about two years before.”

Gardaí were called to the scene, and death was pronounced at 5.45pm. The subsequent investigation revealed that the ‘best before’ dates on the perishable food items in the fridge ranged between December 14-16 2016.

Neighbours were canvassed, and the general opinion was that Mr Hassim had not been seen since the previous Christmas.

His remains were taken to the morgue of University Hospital Galway, where consultant pathologist, Dr Birgid Tietz, carried out a post mortem examination on May 13.

During this, a muscle tissue sample was taken for DNA analysis – the Inquest was told that DNA profiles are inherited, and blood relatives are more likely to have similar readings; samples were also taken by South African authorities from Mr Hassim’s sisters and brother.

These were then sent for comparison to the Forensic Science Laboratory, and the results showed that “the DNA profile obtained from the tissue sample is approximately 121,000 times more likely if it is from the biological brother of Mr Hassim, rather than from an unknown unrelated man.”

Dr Tietz found that the body was in an advanced state of decomposition and mummified, which was consistent with death “many months ago.” For this reason, the cause could not be determined.

Coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, returned an open verdict, that death had occurred between December 14-16 2016.

“The cause of death is unascertained, due to advanced decomposition, but there was no evidence of injury,” he said.


Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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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Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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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Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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