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Man walks free after victim loses sense of taste and smell in assault

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A man who caused a car salesman to lose his sense of taste and smell following a one-punch assault, walked free from court after paying his victim a substantial, undisclosed sum of money.

Judge Rory McCabe said he would not record a conviction against Erwin O’Toole (36), from Menlo, but instead bound him to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for 18 months in lieu of an 18-month prison sentence.

O’Toole pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in March to assaulting Adrian Fahy (36), from Ballindooley, causing him harm at 4 Aces Casino, Dominick Street, on July 20, 2014.

Defence barrister, John Hogan BL, who represented O’Toole under the Free Legal Aid scheme, said at the time that while his client was pleading guilty to the assault he wanted an independent medical assessment of the injured party’s injuries.

Mr Hogan said two medical reports for the prosecution stated the victim had lost his sense of taste and smell due to the attack and had also suffered irreparable nerve damage to the affected area.

The barrister applied to the court for an extension of the Free Legal Aid certificate so that his client could have another surgeon examine the victim’s scans after contending that the complaint of a loss of taste and smell was of a very subjective nature and based solely on one consultant reading a scan.

Prosecuting barrister, Conor Fahy objected to the application at the time. saying there were no grounds for the application apart from suspicion. He said the victim’s GP had confirmed he had perfect taste and smell prior to the assault.

Judge McCabe disagreed and he extended the Free Legal Aid certificate to cover the cost of getting another surgeon to examine the scan and provide a report.

Sentence was adjourned to June and then again to last week to await the outcome of the medical findings.

Mr Hogan informed the court that the defence would not be pursuing the medical reports any further.

He said his client had accepted his culpability “100%”, and was truly sorry for what he did.

Garda Evan McKenna told the hearing O’Toole came up behind Mr Fahy in the casino’s smoking area around 6am on the morning in question and struck him one blow on the back of the head with his fist.

The victim was rendered unconscious and was taken to UHG. He was treated for his injury and was released a few hours later.

He felt disorientated for a few days and went back to his GP complaining of headaches and difficulty chewing his food. It later transpired he had lost his sense of taste and smell as a result of the blow.

Garda McKenna confirmed a CT scan was normal. There was no evidence of a fracture or damage to the sinuses.

It did indicate, however, that the victim had suffered a brain trauma as the nerves which provide the sense of taste and smell were torn by the punch and would never recover.

Mr Fahy’s victim impact statement was read to the court.

It stated he remembered waking up in hospital and felt dazed and confused for a couple of days. He had lost his sense of taste and smell following the attack.

“I know he didn’t intend to cause the serious injury I received from the blow. I feel he has learnt his lesson and I do not want to see him go to jail,” the victim said in his statement.

Mr Hogan said the assault occurred following a complete misunderstanding on his client’s part about the sale of a car between the parties.

The barrister handed references from Councillor Padraig Conneely and David O’Donnell from Cancer Care West and from a building contractor into court.

He said his client came from a very decent family. He lived at home and had recently started a job in research and development. He had written a letter of apology to the victim last April in which he had expressed his deep remorse.

Mr Hogan informed the court his client had taken out a loan and had also received a loan from his mother in order to pay a substantial sum of money to the victim.

He asked the court not to reveal the amount involved in open court.

In reply to Judge McCabe, Mr Hogan said the compensation was already paid over to Mr Fahy and no further (civil) proceedings would issue against his client.

A very positive probation report on O’Toole was handed into court.

Judge McCabe said this was a drink-fuelled, unanticipated assault which may have had a foundation in some dispute or dissatisfaction over the purchase of a car.

Such disputes, he said, are usually resolved in civil courts and do not result in life-changing injury, as had happened in this case.

This, he said, had been a one-punch incident and there was little doubt O’Toole had no intention of harming his victim in the way he did.

He said O’Toole may have felt provoked but that was no defence and it was probably fuelled by alcohol.

The judge said the victim’s impact statement was “extraordinarily fair” towards the accused.

He noted O’Toole was genuinely remorseful and posed a low risk of reoffending.

The judge said the accused had compensated the victim to the satisfaction of the victim and taking his previous good record and genuine remorse into account, he said he would not record a conviction against him.

In lieu of an 18-month sentence, Judge McCabe gave O’Toole a conditional discharge, binding him to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for 18 months

CITY TRIBUNE

Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara

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Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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