A prolific burglar, who claimed he developed a drug habit and returned to a life of crime after his mother died, was this week sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison with the final eighteen months suspended for two Christmastime burglaries, committed within walking distance of his own home.
Christy McDonagh (34), a father of four from 3 Rocklands Avenue, Ballybane, pleaded guilty at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at two homes in the early hours of St. Stephen’s night last year.
Blood stains found at both premises matched swabs later taken from McDonagh who had been sporting a open cut over his eye that night following an earlier altercation with his own brother.
Detective Tom Doyle told the sentence hearing that one house was vacant but a young woman was home alone in the second property, and she was absolutely terrified when confronted by McDonagh in her bedroom.
He rushed past her, pushing her onto the bed, as he made good his escape.
McDonagh had earlier kicked in the front door of a vacant, rented house in Clareview Park at 4a.m. that night and stolen a broken 32- inch TV, and a Samsung tablet, total value €500.
The occupants were tenants and had all gone home for Christmas.
A hour later a 23-year-old au pair, home alone in Cuirt Eigis, Ballybane, heard noises but thought it was coming from the neighbours.
When she went to the bathroom, she noticed her house mate’s room light was on and someone was making a lot of noise.
She went back into her own room and was confronted by McDonagh who was rummaging through her things.
She said in her statement to Gardai that he pushed her onto the bed and walked towards her but when she started to scream, he ran out.
She said he had a cut over his eyebrow and there was blood on his face.
McDonagh’s blood stains were also found in this property.
Gardai had attended the altercation between the McDonagh brothers earlier that night and at the time they noticed he had a cut over his eye and was bleeding.
They called to his house at 6.20am and he opened the upstairs window but refused to come down.
Det Doyle said McDonagh was arrested and questioned on January 5, but made no admissions. He later admitted his involvement when swabs taken from him during his detention, matched the blood stains found in both properties.
He told Gardai he had taken drink and drugs that night and was very apologetic for putting the young woman in fear.
He said he only pushed her to get out of the premises.
Det. Doyle said he accepted that was the case.
McDonagh, he confirmed, was on bail at the time of these two latest offences and had 80 previous convictions, nine of which were for burglaries.
He is currently serving a eight-month sentence for a burglary committed in October, 2014. That sentence was imposed in the District Court by Judge Mary Fahy on November 2 last.
McDonagh was out on bail for that burglary when he committed the two Christmas burglaries, the court was told.
Det. Doyle said there were other convictions going back to 2006 but there was a gap in the offending between 2006 and 2010 while McDonagh got married and was living in England.
He returned to this jurisdiction in 2011. The offending quickly began again and he lapsed back into taking drink and drugs.
Det. Doyle agreed with McDonagh’s barrister that he was a good family man who was very close to his children.
He also agreed McDonagh had said: “I am sorry to be honest with you”, when told the young woman had been absolutely terrified.
Det Doyle said he believed this remorse to be genuine and also agreed McDonagh had no previous convictions for crimes of violence.
He accepted McDonagh pushed the young woman to get past her and get out of the house.
“He has tried to do his best by his family. They are obviously bereft of his company and will be over Christmas too,” the barrister added.
He said McDonagh had lapsed into taking drugs again when his mother died in 2011.
Judge Karen O’Connor took time to read a letter handed into court from McDonagh before proceeding to sentence.
She said she accepted he was a good father and family man, but she asked him how would he like it if someone broke into his own home and terrified his children.
“Can you imagine the sheer terror that young lady must have felt and on St. Stephen’s Night when people would expect to feel safe in their homes; encountering a person in her home like that,” she said.
She imposed a two-and-a-half-year sentence for each offence, the sentences to run concurrently. She then made the sentences consecutive to the eight-month sentence McDonagh is currently serving.
Hearing McDonagh had successfully stayed off drugs in the past, she decided to suspended the final 18 months of the sentence for two-and-a- half years and directed that on his release he was to come under the supervision of the probation service for a year with a view to tackling his addictions.
She warned him that if he failed to comply with the probation service he would serve the eighteen months.
“I hope you sort yourself out because you have young children and they need their father,” Judge O’Connor said to McDonagh as he was being led away.
Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.
Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.
The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.
As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.
Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow: collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.
In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.
As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.
Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.
Park fun to mark Africa Day
On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.
Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.
Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.
Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.
Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.
In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.
Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.
The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.
Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.
Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’
BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON
A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.
Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.
The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.
The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.
Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.
“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.
“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.
“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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