Galway singer and actor Garrett Phillips will be sentenced in July for orally raping a young woman who had fallen asleep in his van while he gave her a lift home from a night out in Galway.
Phillips (46) had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court last month to one charge of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman at a Galway location in the early hours of November 5, 2015.
Reporting restrictions in the case, which prevented Phillips being named, were lifted by Ms Justice Eileen Creedon, despite attempts by him to have them kept in place.
The case has been adjourned until July to allow for the preparation of a probation report.
Phillips is well-known for impersonating Frank Sinatra in a ‘Rat Pack’ show which finished up in London’s West End and Dublin last month, and for his former role in Ros na Rún.
During the trial, the victim told the jury that she accepted the lift from Phillips after first encountering him with his dog while she sat alone and upset in a park.
She said she fell asleep on the journey and woke up to find her assailant standing up in the van opposite her with his right leg on the seat beside her and his penis in her mouth.
The woman told the jury she memorised the van’s registration plate as he sped off and then ran to the nearest house repeating this number out loud.
Phillips claimed in his Garda interview that he had driven out to a vantage point on the outskirts of the city at the woman’s suggestion.
He said their faces “kind of met” while they stopped to look at a view of the city lights and that it was a consensual encounter which had started off “very tender” and felt “chemical”.
He then claimed that his victim gave him oral sex for a few seconds before she stated: “I’ve a boyfriend”.
He claimed she put her head back, became unresponsive and then sprang upright in anger. The court heard the man has no previous convictions.
The jury of eight men and four women took four hours and 15 minutes to return their majority 11-1 verdict.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon thanked the jury members for their time and attention to the case and exempted them from further duty for seven years.
She directed Phillips be registered as a sex offender and remanded him on continuing bail until his sentence date in May. Sentencing is now adjourned until July.
The young woman told the jury that she awoke to find Phillips “thrusting” his penis into her mouth after falling asleep while he gave her a lift home.
She said she had accepted the lift after encountering him as she was sitting alone and upset in a park from various stressors in her life.
She said they had a conversation and she later got into his van, before falling asleep after seeing a hotel on the route and hearing him say something about an overview of the city lights.
The woman told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that she next recalled the man standing up in the van opposite her with his right leg on the seat beside her and his penis in her mouth.
“He was thrusting his penis into my mouth”, she told the jury.
She described “crying hysterically and screaming”, retrieving her phone from him and running around to the back of the van where she memorised the number plate.
She said she ran to a nearby house “and just started ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door, just kept saying the number plate.” She said the family in this house rang the Gardaí.
The woman denied when Barry White SC, defending, suggested that she had put her arm around his client while on the park bench.
She said it was “not true” that she and the man kissed passionately at the view location and that she had performed consensual oral sex on him.
She further denied repeating “I’ve a boyfriend”, becoming unresponsive in the van and then springing “bolt upright” in anger.
Another witness told the court that she and her parents opened their front door to the woman, who was crying with “makeup all down her face”.
The witness said she noticed the complainant’s zip had been fully down on her jeans, while the top button was done. She said the complainant was repeating a vehicle’s registration when she first came into the house.
A local garda described taking photos and measurements of the seized van and listed various cabin measurements, including the distance from the passenger seat’s edge to the dashboard.
He agreed with Mr White that he did not seek assistance from colleagues sitting in to see how far a person’s legs would come out from the seat.
Phillips told gardaí during a voluntary interview that the woman had indicated to him that he could drive towards a vantage point of the city during the lift to her home. He claimed to Gardaí that they had a passionate kiss here before he pulled his van about 20 metres into a nearby housing estate and they continued with “heavy petting”.
He said the woman gave him oral sex for a few seconds before she started repeating: “I’ve a boyfriend”.
He said she put her head back, “seemed suddenly out of it” and unresponsive and then sprang upright. The man claimed the woman shouted at him to get away from her, she demanded her phone and wanted him to drive her to a Garda station.
A detective told Mr Burns that the man said he drove off feeling “panicky” when the woman got out of his van. He described how he had felt like a “Good Samaritan” by approaching her as she sat alone audibly crying on a park bench.
When Gardaí asked him to explain why a woman 20 years younger would perform oral sex on him, he replied that “it was more sensual” and that it “felt chemical” between them.
O’Donnellan & Joyce celebrate 40 years in business
When O’Donnellan & Joyce started in 1982, little did they know that one day they would be celebrating 40 years in business. Celebrating the big 4-0 in September meant this has been a landmark year for the company.
In the beginning back in 1982 they worked mostly in lettings and private treaty sales. Their auctions began in 1984 on the Aran Islands with the sale of land and a pub.
Colm commented: “It is definitely one of my highlights over the past 40 years, everyone needs to start somewhere and it was a fabulous start.” The auction was held outside in the summer and is a far cry from the auctions held today.
These days O’Donnellan & Joyce ‘Wild Atlantic’ property auctions which take place in Galway’s Harbour Hotel, are renowned throughout Ireland, with properties for sale from Galway up to Donegal and all along the western seaboard right down as far as Kerry and over in Dublin.
Modern technology now means their auctions can reach a global audience with their live stream online bidding platform attracting international bidders as well as national and local bidders who can now bid and view the auction from the comfort of their own homes leading to a dramatic expansion of audiences across the world in recent years.
Combining modern technology with nationally renowned auctioneer Colm O’Donnellan taking bids on the day, brings tremendous excitement to the live auction room.
Not only do O’Donnellan & Joyce have their successful auction department, they also have a substantial new homes division, their private treaty department which sells on average over 350 homes a year, rentals division and their rapidly growing commercial & valuations department.
Like most businesses, it is the people who make the business. O’Donnellan & Joyce has 16 full time staff with many of them there for over 20 years.
Meeting hears of “devastating impact” of Huntington’s on families
The Minister of State for Disability at the Department of Health has acknowledged the devastating impact which Huntington’s Disease has on the entire family.
Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte met with families affected by the disease at the Huntington’s Disease Association of Ireland annual meeting in Ballinasloe.
The Minister spoke positively about her intention to ensure families affected by HD will have access to necessary services and that family carers, who often care for several family members, have assistance.
She acknowledged the vital need for HD specialist support in the community to overcome the misunderstanding and stigma associated with the disease over generations.
The Minister also confirmed her priority to fully resource at least four of the seven required community neuro-rehabilitation teams around the country.
A member of a family affected by HD in County Galway said: “It is very encouraging to have Minister Rabbitte speak at our meeting to acknowledge the huge struggles families face.
“Huntington’s Disease desperately needs more recognition, more specialist support and more awareness from healthcare professionals; policy makers; and the general public.
“As children we grew up watching our Dad help care for Mum and just a few years later he had to start over with my older brother.
“Now my sister has symptoms and it is an ongoing struggle to get her the care and support she needs. HD families can overcome the fear and stigma associated with this disease if we know there are sufficient resources to ensure health and social care professionals can understand and help,” he said.
Huntington’s Disease affects the body’s nervous system – the network of nerve tissues in the brain and spinal cord that co-ordinate your body’s activities. This leads to progressive deterioration – physically, cognitively, and mentally until the individual becomes dependent on the help of others. Symptoms include motor (movement), mental health (for example mood) and cognitive (for example learning and thinking) disturbances, which in the majority of cases appear in mid-adult life.
Approximately 1,000 people in Ireland live with symptoms of HD or with the altered gene that triggers the disease. There are more than 3,000 people nationwide who are living at risk of developing the disease and hundreds of family carers left to struggle without adequate supports.
Despite the impact on families, from one generation to the next, there is little awareness of the condition and very limited specialist services. Unlike most other European countries, Ireland has no specialist multidisciplinary services or HD specialist nurses. By comparison, Scotland, with a similar-sized population have 10 regional multidisciplinary clinics with a team of 19 HD specialists offering outreach support throughout the country.
Concerns over day care move
Day care services at St Brendan’s Community Nursing Unit – which have been suspended for the past 18 months – have re-opened at the Loughrea Hotel.
Services restarted on Monday following a lengthy search for a suitable premises, and expected to continue operating from the hotel for around 18 months while an existing building on the St Brendan’s campus is “repurposed” by the HSE.
However, at least one local councillor has expressed concerns that the same level of services will not be available at the hotel.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) ordered the closure of day services at St Brendan’s, so that the space could be used by permanent residents of the nursing unit for dining and activities such as cooking and baking.
Local area councillor Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher said that between the hotel and St Brendan’s hospital, a day care service will now be available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with the capacity to serve 86 people every week.
“The service is vital to Loughrea and East Galway. Everyone was very disappointed to see the day service suspended. We all have neighbours and friends who use the service and this was a vital lifeline for them, allowing them to socialise with others, to have a lovely meal together and to have any minor medical issues dealt with.
“I’m delighted that a suitable premises has been found in Loughrea town, which has been the traditional location for the service and also offers users a chance to avail of other services in our local town. The Loughrea Hotel is the perfect location with all of the necessary services on site and is easily accessed by the service users”, the Fine Gael councillor and Cathaoirleach of Loughrea Municipal District said.
However, Independent councillor Geraldine Donohue raised concerns about the level of services that will be provided and said she had been asked by constituents how much the temporary service was going to cost.
“I believe that HIQA should have been challenged from the outset for our purpose built Seven Springs Day Care Centre to remain at St Brendan’s. As far as operating Day Care Services from the Loughrea Hotel, I have concerns that the services that the attendees enjoyed at Seven Springs will not be available at the Loughrea Hotel,” she said.
Meanwhile Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said HSE management are also planning to repurpose an existing building on the St Brendan’s campus to establish a permanent home for the day care service.
He said he had attended a site meeting recently to identify potential buildings on the campus.
“We now need to begin developing a permanent home for the service at St Brendan’s as it makes sense from so many perspectives to have the service on campus.
“At our site meeting we walked the campus and have identified a number of potential locations. The HSE’s building management team will now create a shortlist of locations and ultimately a decision on the final location will be made in consultation with staff.
“The intention is to partner with the Topping Trust, a local charity, to create a state-of-the-art day care facility at St Brendan’s to open in the shortest possible timeframe. We are all working towards that outcome and there’s a serious sense of urgency attached to the project,” said Deputy Cannon.