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Man pleads guilty to the defilement of a child

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The case of a 22-year-old married man who pleaded guilty to having sex in a fast-food restaurant toilet with an underage schoolgirl three years ago may now become a test case following the intervention of the Rape Crisis Centre.

The man, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty to defilement of a child aged under 17 years of age, when he appeared before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last year.

The plea was accepted by the prosecution at the time.

He was placed under the supervision of the probation service for a year and the matter was adjourned to last week for up-to-date reports on him and on the victim.

Detective Sgt Willie Beirne told the sentence hearing in March 2014 that the girl made a complaint to Gardai that she had been sexually assaulted by the accused in a toilet in McDonald’s in Shop Street on April 8, 2012.

She was 16 years old at the time and was very distressed by what had happened.

She said she met the accused while drinking in Eyre Square with friends and he tried to lure her down an alleyway but she refused to go with him. He then followed her down Shop Street and into the toilet in McDonald’s where, she said, she allowed him kiss her.

She said he then followed her into the cubicle and she shouted for help but he told her to shut up before having sex with her.

The accused was arrested a short time later and denied any involvement.

However, in a second interview he claimed they had had consensual sex. He claimed he thought she was 17 or 18 and when told she was 16, he denied having sex with her at all.

Sgt Beirne said the girl was in secondary school at the time and had very little parental support. He read out a victim impact statement on behalf of the girl who was present in court with a friend.

In her statement, the girl said she had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the sexual assault.  She was very distressed and upset and was still afraid to come into the city for fear of meeting her assailant.

She became severely depressed after the attack and took an overdose.

Her counsellor said at the time that even with counselling, she would continue to suffer well into the future.

Sgt Beirne said the accused had been living in a hostel at the time and was hanging around the streets. He had eight previous convictions for public order offences, burglary, possession of knives and for thefts.

Mr Paul Flannery SC, defending, said last year that his client was now married with one child. He asked for sentence to be deferred.

In light of a positive probation report on the accused last year and on the recommendation of the probation service, Judge Rory McCabe adjourned sentence for a year and placed the accused under the supervision of the service in the interim.

However, a letter handed into court last week from the Rape Crisis Centre and an up-to-date probation report on the accused changed the complexion of the case for Judge McCabe.

While the contents of the letter and the report were not revealed in open court, Judge McCabe said he could not finalise sentence after reading the documents.

Sgt Willie Byrne confirmed to the judge that the girl had attended one appointment at the Rape Crisis Centre but was unable to continue with counselling.

“She is still severely traumatised by what happened to her and she’s still in a very bad place,” he said.

Recalling the evidence at the initial hearing last year, Mr Flannery said it had been the girl’s case in the Book of Evidence that she felt she had been raped.

However, the video evidence from the toilet area (outside the cubicle), he said, showed a different scenario and based on that it was agreed last year between the prosecution and the defence that his client would plead guilty to having sex with an underage girl and that was accepted by the prosecution.

There was no suggestion at the time, he said, that his client had raped the girl and his client had said it was consensual.

Mr Flannery said that in light of the developments (contained in the letter from the Rape Crisis Centre regarding the victim), he found himself at a disadvantage because he was now faced with evidence that put a different ‘colour’ on the case; something that had been taken out of the equation at the start by agreement with the prosecution.

Adjourning sentence to November, Judge McCabe said an unrelated issue had been raised in the accused man’s probation report and that, coupled with the most recent letter from the Rape Crisis Centre, which, he said, was “an opening gambit in what might be a test case down the road” meant he could not finalise the matter just yet.

The judge said that now that the game had commenced, he believed the issues raised in the most recent documents before the court had to “play out” first before justice could take its course in November.

CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport

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From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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