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CITY TRIBUNE

Rapist failed to notify Gardaí of his return to Galway

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A convicted rapist has claimed that he didn’t register on the Sex Offenders’ List because he had not understood his legal obligations due to his poor understanding of the English language.

Darius Savickis (47) of 28 An Fiodán, Doughiska, was before Galway District Court last week to face a charge of failing to notify the Gardaí on dates between November 13, 2015 and January 19 last year of his name, or names used by him, his home address and his date of birth, a requirement for registered sex offenders under the provision of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, as amended by the Human Trafficking Act 2008.

Represented by James McGuill, the court first heard an application to dismiss the charge on the basis that Savickis had been arrested on the day of his release from prison — he served two-and-a-half years of a six-year sentence for raping a woman in Galway City in 2005 — to be deported to serve an eight-month sentence in his native Lithuania for another rape.

Mr McGuill also submitted that his client’s grasp of the English language had handicapped his understanding of what his obligations were.

But Judge Mary Fahy said it was the defendant’s obligation to register as soon as he returned to Ireland and that as well as having been given interpreters, his legal representatives would have explained it to him.

During the three-and-a-half hour hearing, Mr McGuill raised serious concerns about the adequacy of the original interpretation services provided to his client on his arrest. He had sought the full transcript of the actual interview in Galway Garda Station and on cross-examining Garda witnesses, was satisfied that his client had not been served fairly.

In fact, Mr McGuill added, Savickis had never been served with his caution, charge sheet or other basic information in his native Lithuanian language, a breach of EU linguistic regulations.

Inspector Brendan Carroll said Savickis had an interpreter and had adequate representation all along and that he had not been prejudiced due to his lack of understanding of the procedure.

Detective Sergeant Adrian O’Neill told the court he had become aware on January 19 last year that Savickis was back residing in the city and had not registered that fact with him or anyone else on the force. He said Savickis had been back in Galway since January 2016, but had not complied with his obligation to update his details on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

He said Savickis had pleaded guilty in June 2009 to raping a female outside the Huntsman on College Road in 2005 and was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register as soon as he was convicted and received a prison sentence. However, Savickis’ details on that register had not been updated since and that meant he was in breach of his obligation to do so. He added that Savickis was liable to be on that register for an indefinite period.

Replying to Mr McGuill, Det Sgt O’Neill said Gardaí needed to know the whereabouts of sex offenders and that Savickis had been obliged to register seven days after he had returned to Ireland.

He told the Court that Gardaí had become aware of Savickis’ presence in the jurisdiction when informed that the matter was about to be raised at a residents’ association meeting. Local people had been concerned that a sex offender was living on their estate.

He denied Mr McGuill’s suggestion that Gardaí had been made aware of his client in a much more sinister way when Galway County Council made enquiries during a Garda vetting exercise when Savickis became an applicant for social housing.

Niall Kennedy, a prison officer at Arbour Hill, said he had a lot of interaction with Savickis during his time in prison and believed the man’s English was “not fluent but a good working knowledge.”

He told the Court he had gone through the obligations with him before his release and that he made sure he understood them before he signed the form which was accompanied by an information booklet given to all sex offenders on their release.

There was no interpreter present for that as there was no need for one, said Mr Kennedy, who added that Savickis had intended contesting the European warrant out for his arrest at the time and had intended returning to Galway.

Mr McGuill argued that the form was “a significant legal document” that should have been provided to him in his native language which was again, an EU directive.

Mr Kennedy said Savickis was transferred to both Cloverhill and Portlaoise to await his deportation, which didn’t happen for another twelve months but he couldn’t say how or if the other prisons assisted him on that matter.

Detective Garda Pat Fahy was cross-examined for over an hour by Mr McGuill on how the interview with his client on January 19 last year had been conducted, transcribed and interpreted.

Mr McGuill pointed out that Det Garda Fahy’s memo was only four pages long, while the full transcript of the taped interview was 19 pages long.

The Garda explained that not every question was recorded by him in writing as he was mostly asking the questions.

Mr McGuill said some of the translation by the interpreter used by Gardaí that day fell short — the Garda replied that Savickis had replied 81 times in English and 51 times in his own language which indicated to him that the man had a good understanding of what was being said.

He said that Savickis had told him he had returned to Ireland on November 20, 2015 after spending a total of four-and-a-half years in prisons in Ireland and in Lithuania.

He said Savickis told him he now understood his obligation but hadn’t been aware he would be on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

He told him he was a building site scaffolder who lived with his partner and children in a rented house.

Replying to Mr McGuill on how Gardaí assigned interpreters, he said he rang up the company, translation.ie, which they always used and waited for an interpreter before starting the interview.

The court later heard evidence that the interpreter, a waitress, hadn’t been formally trained, and worked with them on a part-time basis for a very short time and was no longer interpreting.

Mr McGuill then asked the Court the hear the audio of the interview to compare it with the way it had been interpreted for his client.

Judge Fahy refused to hear it at the end of a long hearing day adding she didn’t think it was necessary for it to be heard.

But Mr McGuill insisted the State didn’t abide by their mandatory obligations to provide documents to his client in Lithuanian and asked for the matter to be adjourned to another day.

Judge Fahy agreed to adjourn it to November 13 and further said she would sign an order agreed between the defence and the prosecution for the High Court to decide whether the audio should be heard by her.

Savickis pleaded guilty in 2009 at the Central Criminal Court to orally raping a 23-year-old German woman who was walking home along the pathway behind The Huntsman in November 2005. The woman was left so distressed by the attack, she could only tell of her ordeal by pointing to the word ‘rape’ in the dictionary. Savickis was arrested after Gardaí got a DNA match with a sample held by police in the UK.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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