A pervert who was caught spying on a woman through a peephole in a toilet cubicle has been successful in his appeal to have his four-month prison sentence suspended.
59-year-old Vincent Moran, of 75 Riveroaks, Claregalway, admitted to Gardaí when arrested last year that he loved hiding in public toilets so he could get a thrill watching women go to the toilet.
Moran, a former ESB employee, pleaded guilty before Galway District Court last June to intentionally engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature in a public place at the Ardilaun Hotel, Taylor’s Hill, on February 16 last year.
A four-month prison sentence was imposed in the District Court at the time, which Moran appealed last week to the Circuit Court on the grounds of severity only.
The appeals court heard this was not Moran’s first time before a court for watching women going to the toilet, as he had been given the benefit of the Probation Act in 2006, for spying on another woman in another city hotel toilet in 2005.
The victim of last year’s offence broke down and cried in the witness box as she recounted the incident to Judge Marie Keane at the initial hearing before Galway District Court last June.
“I’ve been left feeling humiliated and degraded by what happened to me,” she sobbed.
She had been attending a wedding with her partner and went into the women’s toilet in the early hours of the morning.
She went into a cubicle and as she sat down, she noticed a peephole in the cubicle wall adjoining the next cubicle.
She took a wad of toilet paper and put it into the hole. However, the plug of paper popped back out again and when she looked through the hole, she could see an eye staring back at her.
The woman immediately left the cubicle and called her partner. She saw a pair of chunky men’s shoes when she looked under the door of the other cubicle before leaving the toilets.
She was making a complaint to staff at reception when she noticed a man wearing the same chunky shoes leave through the front door of the hotel and get into a taxi.
Her partner managed to take a photo of Moran before he got away.
Sergeant Kieran Duignan told the District Court he tracked Moran down through the Garda Pulse system and arrested and questioned him on April 7 last year.
“During interview, he [Moran] admitted going into women’s toilets for the thrill of watching women going to the toilet,” Sgt Duignan told the court.
According to a psychological assessment handed into court, there was a high risk of Moran reoffending if he did not engage in counselling or psychotherapy.
Judge Keane said this was Moran’s second offence and he had admitted to the psychologist this year that he committed this type of offence many times over many years.
She noted Moran had been given an opportunity to receive counselling in 2006 which he refused and he didn’t go for counselling either since this second offence occurred, which showed he was not taking it seriously.
Imposing the four-month sentence, Judge Keane said she had a duty to protect the public and the only way she could protect it was by imposing the custodial sentence.
Moran appealed the severity of her sentence at a District Court Appeal hearing before the Circuit Court last Friday.
Sgt Duignan outlined the facts of the case again and told the appeal hearing Moran admitted going to the hotel that night “with the sole intention of doing what he did”.
Prosecuting State solicitor, Willie Kennedy said that presumably Moran had drilled the hole in the cubicle wall or had “caused the hole to come into being”.
Sgt Duignan said Moran made no admission about drilling the hole, but when he himself examined the toilets there were no similar type peepholes in any of the other cubicles.
Defence barrister, Garry McDonald, said Moran had lost his job as a result of his conviction and was no longer a member of local societies or groups in Claregalway.
He attributed media coverage of the case last June to Moran’s current isolation in his community.
“He was a lonely character before this and is more so now due to the embarrassment and shame,” Mr McDonald said.
He conceded Moran had not gone for counselling before last June’s District Court appearance, but was engaging well with his counsellor now.
He asked for the sentence to be suspended so that Moran could continue with counselling and avail of the support his brothers, who were present in court, could give him.
Judge Eoin Garavan said this was a sinister offence. He agreed that if Moran had gone for counselling in 2006 for his voyeuristic tendencies, he might not have reoffended.
“He was treated very leniently in 2006 and he didn’t go for counselling then because he got away with it.
“He has issues and, worryingly, there are no explanations in the [psychological] report as to why he does this,” the judge noted.
He said Moran was probably a pariah in his own locality but he had only himself to blame for that.
However, he said, Moran deserved a chance due to his age and his willingness to undergo counselling now.
He suspended the sentence for three years on condition Moran continue to receive psycho-therapy and counselling and comply with all directions from his doctors. He bound him to keep the peace and not reoffend for three years.
Judge Garavan also directed Moran make a €1,000 donation to an appropriate women’s charity, saying “he needs to pay a price for what he did by feeling a bit of pain in his wallet”.
Mr Kennedy suggested the donation be offered to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre and if declined, the money could be offered to St Vincent de Paul.
Paedophile for sentencing after arrest in Ceannt Station
A man will be sentenced in December for arranging to meet a child at Ceannt Station for the purpose of sexual assault.
In the meantime, Michael Sheridan, from Cormeelick South, Milltown, must not attempt to use the internet or any other means of communication to contact any child, as set down in conditions attached to his bail.
The 63-year-old pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last Friday week to attempting to communicate with a child by means of information and communication technology within the State, for the purposes of facilitating the sexual exploitation of the child on dates between March 20 and May 26, 2018, contrary to Common Law and Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.
He also pleaded guilty to attempting to meet the child on May 27, 2018, at Ceannt Railway Station in Eyre Square, having communicated by any means with the child, and did so on at least a previous occasion, and did so for the purpose of doing something that would constitute the sexual exploitation of the child, namely sexual assault of the child, contrary to Common Law. The sex of the child referred to in the charges was not revealed in court.
In reply to Judge Rory McCabe, prosecuting barrister, Geri Silke said there was no need to order a victim impact statement prior to sentence taking place as there was no victim ‘in the real sense’ in the case.
By consent with Bernard Madden SC, defending, sentence was adjourned to December 15 next, when the prosecution will outline the facts in the case against Sheridan.
His free legal aid certificate was extended to cover the cost of a medical report for mitigation purposes.
Judge McCabe also directed the preparation of a probation report at Mr Madden’s request and remanded Sheridan on continuing bail with the existing conditions attached to appear back before the court in December for sentence.
Bail was initially granted in the District Court on condition Sheridan surrender his passport and not apply for a new one or any other travel documents; sign on twice a week at Tuam Garda Station; provide a mobile phone number to Gardai and answer his phone to Gardaí at all times; undertake to the court not to make any contact with any child by any means, to include social media; and not to access the internet at any stage pending completion of the case.
Final outing for Your County, Your Colours – to honour an old colleague
It was a simple idea well executed – to deliver 32 GAA county jerseys to frontline workers in a hospital or care home in thanks for their dedication during Covid – but before the dust settled on Your County, Your Colours, there was one final and very special delivery to be made.
It is now nine years since a completely unprovoked attack left Tuam man Shane Grogan with life-changing injuries that mean he still requires round-the-clock medical care today.
Before that vicious assault, Shane was a popular member of staff with Merit Medical – who just happened to be the sponsors of the Your County, Your Colours project, dreamt up by Galway Bay FM commentator and former Galway footballer, Tommy Devane.
The team at Merit had one final request – to deliver a special, framed Galway jersey to Shane and the staff at Greenpark Nursing Home, where Shane has lived for some time.
Karen Smyth, Communications Leader with Merit Medical, said that the staff at Merit Medical had never forgotten Shane.
“We see Your County, Your Colours as a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of the frontline workers in Greenpark,” she said.
“This is just a small token of appreciation of their efforts; they do an amazing job – not just during the pandemic but every day,” she added.
Shane’s dad Joe relayed his thanks to Merit Medical for this presentation – with a special word to the Accounts Department, where Shane worked prior to his accident.
“They have always kept Shane foremost in their thoughts and hopefully, the visits will start again soon!” he said.
The original idea, as envisaged by Tommy Devane, was to honour the tireless efforts of frontline workers across the country during the pandemic.
So he has asked all 32 counties to supply one county jersey accompanied by a short message of thanks. The jersey along with their message was then framed and sent to the hospital or care setting of the county’s choice.
Greenpark Nursing Home Director of Nursing Brian McNamara thanked Merit Medical and Tommy Devane for what he called this wonderful gift.
“We are honoured to have been thought of in this manner and it is our privilege to look after Merit’s colleague Shane Grogan,” he said.
“In our caring for Shane, there will always be a special bond between Merit Medical and Greenpark Nursing Home,” he added.
(Photo: Shane Grogan (centre) with his parents Joe and Joan behind him, accepting his signed Galway jersey, joined by (from left) the McNamara family – Jane, Cora, Director of Nursing Brian and Ian – of Greenpark Nursing Home; Shane’s physical therapist Johnathan Gibson, Merit Medical’s Karen Smyth and Mark Butler, and Tommy Devane, organiser of Your County, Your Colours).
Teacher has sights set on passing ultimate Ironman test
It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted and it pretty much eats up all of your spare time – but for Claregalway schoolteacher, Rachel Farrell, the Ironman 70.3 world championship test in September is something she just cannot wait for.
Rachel (28) has always been bitten by the sports and fitness bug, being a competitive swimmer and badminton player from her school days, but now she is concentrating on what’s called the Ironman 70.3.
The 70.3 part of the title refers to the total distance in miles that competitors will cover between the swim, cycle and running legs of the event.
It works out at half the distance of the full Ironman Triathlon but that still adds up to one huge challenge for those brave enough to take it on.
The first part of the endurance test is a 1.9-kilometre (1.2 miles) swim followed by a 90km cycle (56 miles) and then a half-marathon run (21.1km or 13.1 miles).
“I did my first Ironman 70.3 in France in 2019 and the Utah event on September 17 next is actually the 2020 world championships which couldn’t be held last year because of the Covid situation.
“The course in Utah is by all accounts a pretty gruelling one and the conditions there will be tough too, but I’ve prepared well for it and am looking forward to the challenge,” said Rachel.
She will be competing in the 25 to 29 age category and in the France event two years ago, Rachel notched a top 49 finish – the target this time around is for a top-20 finishing slot.
The daughter of Josette and Hugh Farrell, Rachel is currently a secondary schoolteacher in Dubai who is hoping to travel to Utah about a week before the event to help her acclimatise to the heat and desert like conditions of the US state.
Even the journey to get there will be a mission itself with Dubai the starting off point followed by stop-offs at Elay and Las Vegas.
Rachel is pretty much committed to an all-year round preparation programme based on a four-week rota system – three weeks of intense training followed by one week of scaled down activity.
“When I was in Oman back in 2018 and the event was held there it just caught my interest. I put in on my bucket list and really enjoyed the one in France in 2019.
“I’m not sure whether I’ll keep doing them or not – I might just concentrate on swimming or cycling events into the future – but for the moment, Utah is the goal and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Rachel.