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Man told brother he’d just shot their father

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A 33-year-old son seriously wounded his father when he shot him twice at close range in 2012 – before returning to the family home to tell his brother what he’d done.

The Inquest into the death of Thomas Biggins, which was held at Galway Courthouse on Thursday was told that neither injury had been immediately fatal.

And Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, Coroner for West Galway, said that nobody had ever been convicted of the murder, by reason of insanity.

Thomas Biggins (70) of Wallpark, Headford, died on May 6, 2012 from shock and haemorrhage, due to a shotgun injury.

His son, Noel, told the inquiry that as he walked across the fields to his family home that same afternoon he saw his brother, John, with a gun in his hand – which belonged to their father.

He assumed that John was shooting geese, which would have been unusual, and he mentioned it to his parents when he got into the house.

“My father went out to him, and ten or fifteen minutes later, John came to the back door,” he recalled.

“I saw the shaft of the gun beside me, he tapped it off my shoulder and said: ‘I shot the auld lad’. I took the gun off him and broke it up.”

Noel Biggins ran outside to discover his father in a very serious condition. He was rushed to University Hospital Galway, but was pronounced dead at 3.35pm. He added that he got on “mighty” with his father, whom he helped out on the family farm.

State pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, carried out a post mortem examination the following day. She noted two shot gun injuries, one below Mr Biggins’ ribcage and the second to his hand. The first had ruptured major blood vessels, and he had consequently lost a significant quantity of blood.

“There was extensive damage to his hand, but it was not life-threatening,” she stated.

“He was shot from a range of several feet. Neither (wound) was immediately fatal, and he would have been capable of some movement afterwards… A healthy individual would have succumbed without immediate surgical intervention.”

Dr MacLoughlin noted that while a person had been charged with the murder, he was never convicted, as he was deemed unfit to plea.

“This does not make it lawful,” he told the jury.

“It is unlawful, but it is up to you to return that verdict – all I can do is advise you. You have to take into account the mental state of the accused.”

The jury returned after a few minutes with a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing. Dr MacLoughlin then returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

He asked the solicitor for the Biggins family to pass on his sincere sympathies to Mrs Biggins and family.

“To lose your father in such circumstances, and the tragic way it happened, was tragic for you all as well,” he added.

The Biggins family expressed their thanks to the hospital chaplin, Fr David Cribbin; to Dr Martina Rea, a GP in Headford, who attended the scene of the shooting; to the ambulance crew and Sgt Helena Hastings, and to their neighbours.

CITY TRIBUNE

Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

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

Tourists duped in Galway City rental accommodation scam

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have issued another ‘beware’ warning in relation to scammers offering fictitious properties to rent in the city area.

The advice comes after a report of a several separate tourists from overseas calling to a house in Shantalla over recent weeks, thinking that they had booked rental accommodation.

It is understood that the fake rental offer had been made through a booking website, but it turned out to be a scam with the tourists having ‘parted’ weeks earlier with a deposit of several hundred euro.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that such rental scams were an ongoing reality in relation to the accommodation sector, especially in cities like Galway with huge rental markets for long-term and short-term lets.

He said that the first pieces of advice for anyone seeking to rent a property was to only do business with an established bona-fide rental agency and to always meet the prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

Sgt Walsh said that the scammers also tended to be more active at times of the year when accommodation was in major demand as in the late-Summer/early-Autumn period as students returned to third level colleges.

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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