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Singer and actor Garrett Phillips to be sentenced in July for oral rape

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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.

Connacht Tribune

SMEs set their sights on Euro expansion

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Kevin Moran of IMS Marketing accepting the ‘Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Nan Gou, Programme Director, ESMT Berlin.

Irish entrepreneurs have the skills, products and services to break down barriers across Europe, according to one Galway-based marketing agency that is helping SMEs enter new markets.

Kevin Moran, Managing Director of IMS Marketing in Galway, said that this creativity and enthusiasm allows Irish entrepreneurs to punch above their weight in new markets.

He was speaking after his IMS Marketing was honoured for its ‘Enter-the-Eurozone’ Programme which has helped 19 SMEs break into Europe.

And he urged all SMEs to continue to set their ambitions on export markets as we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions and revisit the challenges of Brexit.

Mr Moran said that IMS Marketing, along with its partners, Enterprise Ireland and ESMT Berlin, was delighted to receive the Excellence in Practice Silver Award’ from the European Foundation for Management Development.

“The vision for the ‘Enter the Eurozone’ Programme was to enable progressive Irish SMEs  to enter a new Eurozone market in a strategically led way,” he said.

“Export markets will be more important than ever for Irish companies and jobs as they now face the twin threat of Brexit and a post Covid19 economic recession.”

Accepting the Award’ from the EFMD, Mr Moran said that his company witnessed the strength of the Irish SME sector during the delivery of the award-winning ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Businesses miss out on restart grant

Stephen Corrigan

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Mr. Kenneth Deery. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery

Just one-third of Galway business eligible for the Government’s Restart Grant have actually applied for the scheme which aims to bolster small enterprise as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

It was revealed this week that businesses in Galway City and County have received almost €4.5 million in grant aid under the scheme which offers grants of between €2,000 and €10,000 to commercial rates-liable enterprises.

To qualify for the €250 million scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than €5 million; have 50 or fewer employee; and have a projected loss of revenue of 25% or more.

CEO of Galway Chamber Kenny Deery said there were many Galway businesses that had yet to apply for the grants, despite the fact that they were entitled to do so.

Only around 1,100 of the about 3,000 businesses in the city and county that may be due a pay-out have applied, and confusion over eligibility was contributing to that issue, he explained.

“Some businesses are of the view that they’re not eligible, but they need to realise that even if they only paid €500 or €1,000 in rates in 2019, they could still be eligible for €2,000,” he said.

Those who were in rates arrears were also entitled to the grant, said Mr Deery, adding that as long as a business had a rates liability in 2019, they could apply for the grant.

“The payment have just started being paid out to those who applied about two months ago, so it has been slow in terms of progressing those applications.

“What I would be saying to small businesses is that they would need to sell a lot of cups of coffee or a lot of sandwiches to make €2,000 or €5,000 in profit,” said Mr Deery.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway embraces Mass changes

Stephen Corrigan

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Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford wearing a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Kinvara, on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Parishioners in Kinvara made a long-awaited return to weekend services on Saturday at St Joseph’s Church, and while it was far from business as usual, mass-goers expressed delight at their return to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Hugh Clifford said while there were necessary changes to what people would be accustomed to, the congregation was understanding of why that was necessary and thankful that the implementation of these measures meant they could return to services after a four-month absence.

As part of Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, services of up to 50 people were allowed, and to respect physical distancing, that meant two seats in every three were blocked off, said Fr Hugh.

“Households can sit together, but at the moment, we have the limit of 50 people, but we hope that will change in the next phase. We have to advise people who are more vulnerable that they should consider staying at home for the time being,” he explained.

The obligation to attend Mass has been lifted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, continued Fr Hugh, meaning that people need not worry if they are unable to attend.

For the Eucharist, the Priest and Eucharistic Ministers wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser to ensure there is no cross-contamination, with Communion administered to people in their seats, said Fr Hugh.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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