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CITY TRIBUNE

Six years’ jail for burglary with hatchet and hunting knife

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A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to six years in prison for an aggravated burglary at a house in the city during which he and his underage accomplice were armed with a hunting knife and hatchet.

The teenager (16), who was in the care of the HSE at the time, received a four-year suspended sentence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last March.

His co-accused, Dominic Downes (21), 3 Doire Beag, Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty in March to aggravated burglary at the house in Hazel Park, Newcastle, on September 24 last year in that he and the juvenile trespassed at the house with intent to commit theft, and at the time had with them a large hunting knife and a hatchet.

The pair also pleaded guilty to the theft of a Stanley Wonder Bar and a Stanley axe, total value €60, from Woodie’s DIY, Galway Retail Park the evening before the burglary.

Sentence was adjourned to this week in Downes’ case for the preparation of a probation report.

Garda Robert Molloy told Downes’ sentence hearing that he and other Gardai from Galway and Salthill Stations responded to a burglary in progress call at a man’s home in Hazel Park at 1.55am on September 24 last year.

He and Garda Conor Barrett climbed into the garden at the rear of the property where they spotted the juvenile and Downes, who was carrying an implement in his hand, coming out through a rear window.

The pair ran and were chased by both Gardai over a number of garden walls.

Downes dropped a bag containing property stolen from the house. Both were caught and arrested. Downes was found in possession of a large hunting knife. Both Gardai went back to the house where they met the terrified male occupant.

He was in his underwear and was holding a kitchen knife. He was in shock and was visibly shaking.

A hatchet, left behind by the burglars, was located under the window in the man’s downstairs bedroom.

CCTV from Woodie’s captured the two accused entering the store the day before and stealing a hatchet and a long knife, which were both used in the burglary.

Garda Molloy said the man’s €550 laptop, which was stolen at the time, was later returned to him but it was damaged while the keys for his BMW car, costing €700, were never recovered.

A tablet worth €200 was recovered along with a €140 bluetooth device, while the man’s wallet which contained cash and cards and speakers worth €200 were not recovered.

A female tenant who was staying in the house at the time declined to give a victim impact statement and she has since moved to another location. Both occupants declined to come to court.

Garda Molloy read the man’s victim impact statement into evidence.

The man said he had been woken around 2am by tapping on his bedroom window. He realised someone was trying to open the window from the outside and he ran to the kitchen to find something with which to defend himself.

He ran upstairs and crouched down on the landing while at the same time dialling the emergency services for help.

He could hear voices in his bedroom downstairs while he was talking to a Garda on his phone. He hid behind the bannisters and luckily, he said, the Gardai arrived very quickly.

He could hear feet scrambling down in the bedroom and he heard shouts from the burglars and Gardai. He was trembling while this was going on, but was relieved the had Gardai arrived so quickly.

He said he subsequently suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and had to take two weeks off work.

He had nightmares for weeks and could not be on his own in the house. He too moved house and said he had suffered a huge financial loss.

“I would request these men be given a hard sentence because of the way this affected my life,” he said in his victim impact statement.

Garda Molloy confirmed Downes had seven previous convictions.  He said he started to offend in 2013 and lost the sight in his left eye when assaulted with a bottle in 2014. He added Downes also had a learning disability.

Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy, said Downes’ previous offences were all minor and began when he developed a chronic alcohol and drug addiction.

Mr McCarthy said his client was examined by a doctor on the night of the burglary and was deemed too intoxicated to be questioned until the next day.

“He was out of his head, according to himself, and was drinking and taking Valium and other tablets at the time,” Mr McCarthy explained.

“He wants to apologise to the victims and he understands the trauma they suffered that night,” Mr McCarthy added.

The court heard Downes was out on bail on the aggravated burglary charge when he was arrested by Gardai on February 25 last.

He pleaded guilty before Galway District Court on June 14 to having a knife in his possession when stopped and searched by Gardai near the city centre in February and also admitted having 50 Ecstasy and 30 Valium tablets in his possession for sale or supply to others on the same date.  He told Gardai at the time that he carried the knife for his own protection.

He appealed the severity of sentences totalling eight months imposed in the District Court in June for those offences, to the Circuit Court this week.

Judge Rory McCabe said Downes told his probation officer that he was under the influence of Valium on the night of the aggravated burglary because he had had a row with his girlfriend and he also (mistakenly) thought there may have been a stash of drugs in the house.

“That’s hardly justification for aggravated burglary. He’s a danger to others unless he addresses his problems,” Judge McCabe said before imposing a six-year sentence.

Noting the District Court appeal charges were committed while Downes was out on bail, Judge McCabe made the eight-month sentence consecutive to the six years, but he suspended it for three years.

“I’m very sorry to have to do this to such a young man, but he is not prepared to take the hard steps he needs to take if he is to change,” the judge said after imposing the six-year sentence.

The judge refused an application by Mr McCarthy to suspend part of the sentence, given Downes’ young age, saying he couldn’t do that because there was no evidence before the court to show the accused was prepared to mend his ways.

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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 Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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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