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CITY TRIBUNE

Rapist failed to notify Gardaí of his return to Galway

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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

Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
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

Future of Leisureland secured through increased Council funding

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The future of the Leisureland pool and gym facility, which last September faced possible closure due to the Covid emergency, has been guaranteed for the coming year, following an increased financial subsidy from the City Council in their 2021 annual budget.

City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, told the Galway City Tribune that the local authority was committed to the future of the Leisureland facility and had increased the subsidy for 2021 from €300,000 to €500,000, in the process securing its viability for the coming year.

“We are all acutely aware of the value of the Leisureland facility, not only to local clubs but also to the many, many people who use the pool and gym on a weekly and often on a daily basis.

“Like so many other aspects of life and leisure in Ireland, the coronavirus emergency had a hugely negative impact on the viability of the facility, but thankfully we can now look forward with confidence to its continued usage in 2021,” said Mr. McGrath.

He also said that the City Council was committed to the further enhancement and usage of the greater Leisureland site which could act as a focal point for the regeneration of the entire Salthill area as a major local and national tourism centre.
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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