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Mugger jailed for pizza knife attack on couple at Spanish Arch



A 31-year-old mugger has been sentenced to eight years in prison with the final 18 months suspended for slashing a couple across their necks with a pizza knife while attempting to rob them.

Imposing the sentence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Rory McCabe likened the slash wounds to the horrific machete attacks inflicted on people during the genocide in Rwanda some years ago.

The judge said the couple were lucky to be alive, especially the man, who had suffered a deep, 13cm life-threatening laceration to his neck.

Father-of-two, Frank McDonagh (31), of 31 Tulach Ard, Rahoon, initially appeared before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in February where he pleaded guilty, moments before his trial was due to begin, to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to a 28-year-old man at the Spanish Arch on March 30 last year.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a 22-year-old woman, causing her harm on the same occasion and to producing a knife, capable of inflicting serious injuries, during the course of the attempted robberies.

Garda Pat Foley told the sentence hearing this week that a couple were sitting on a bench at 1.15am on March 30 last year near the water’s edge at the Spanish Arch when McDonagh approached them.

He took out a pizza knife which had a curved four-inch blade and demanded the girl hand over her handbag and that both of them hand over their phones and all of their cash.

The couple refused and a struggle ensued, during which McDonagh sliced across the man’s neck, inflicting a deep 13 cm laceration from just below his left earlobe to the middle of his neck at the front.

The young woman went to the man’s aid and McDonagh sliced the knife downwards through her left ear from the top, right down to the lobe.

He then sliced the knife again across the left-hand side of her neck.

She fell to the ground, bleeding heavily.

A passerby saw what was happening and tackled McDonagh to the ground.  He disarmed him and threw the knife into the river to stop any further assault taking place. He managed to restrain McDonagh on the ground until Gardai arrived at the scene.

McDonagh was arrested and taken to the Garda station while the couple, who were both bleeding heavily, were removed to hospital by ambulance.

CCTV in the area captured the assault. The footage was shown to McDonagh but he denied at all times that he had been carrying a knife.

Garda Foley said he went to McDonagh’s sister’s house, where McDonagh had been staying at the time, and noticed that a pizza knife was missing from a block of knives in her kitchen. It matched a description of the knife used in the assaults.

The couple showed their respective injuries to Judge McCabe in court. Both have been left with permanent scars.

Garda Foley read their victim impact statements into evidence.

Both expressed fear at being alone while walking around Galway since the attack. Both said the scars reminded them of what happened that night.

Garda Foley said McDonagh had 90 previous convictions and had been out on bail for other offences when he committed these crimes.

McDonagh went into the witness box and said he had begun to seek help for his addictions for the first time in his life since being in prison for these offences.  He said he was very sorry for the injuries he caused.

“I didn’t set out to hurt anyone. I know I done it,” he said.

Judge McCabe dismissed this out of hand and said the possession of the pizza knife showed “clear premeditation.”

Reading medical reports which were handed into court, the Judge said the couple were lucky to be alive, particularly the man, who had sustained the most serious injury which was deemed life-threatening by the surgeon who treated him.

Viewing graphic photos of the injuries, particularly the man’s neck injury which were taken on the night by Garda Denis Sweeney, the judge said it reminded him of the horrific injuries inflicted on people during the genocide in Rwanda some years ago, when people were hacked to death with machetes.

The judge sentenced McDonagh to eight years in prison for the serious assault on the man, and suspended the final 18 months.

He imposed a concurrent four-year sentence for the assault on the woman and a further concurrent four-year sentence for the possession of the knife.


Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction



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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Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault



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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Council turns down controversial phone mast plan



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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