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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

Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’

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From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.


The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees

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From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours

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From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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