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Suspended sentence for heroin dealing and ticket fraud

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A Tuam man told a judge he knew he didn’t deserve to be given suspended sentences, which were imposed on him for dealing heroin in the city and for conning people on the internet into parting with over €3,000 for concert and match tickets which never existed.

David Doherty (30), from Country Meadows, Tuam, at first used his hands to cover his face, but then brought them together in mock prayer as a five-year sentence for heroin dealing and a two-year sentence for fraud were both suspended at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last week.

Doherty had pleaded guilty in May 2015 to having heroin for sale or supply at or near the Menlo Park Hotel, Galway on March 14, 2014, and sentence was adjourned for the preparation of a probation report and to give him time to complete a residential addiction treatment course.

However, while out on bail on that charge awaiting sentence, Doherty got involved in an internet scam, conning punters across the country out of thousands of euro for concert and match tickets which never existed.

He pleaded guilty last month to eight sample charges of inducing eight people to lodge varying amounts, ranging from €750 to €200, into his bank account on dates between May 9 and August 18, 2014, for Electric Picnic tickets, Premier League and FA Cup final tickets, all of which never existed.

Detective Ronan Biggins told the sentence hearing that while he knew €5,255 had passed through Doherty’s account for bogus tickets, some injured parties were too embarrassed to make a complaint to Gardaí and he had no way of contacting them.

Det. Biggins said Doherty and two other people had placed an advert on the Gumtree and Done Deal websites, offering coveted tickets for sale.

People contacted the phone numbers provided in the adverts and spoke to Doherty. They then lodged money into his back account but never received the tickets.

The total loss to the victims who did make a complaint to Gardaí came to €3,355, he said.

Det. Biggins said Doherty had 52 previous convictions, with 40 of those involving road traffic offences.  The remainder comprised drug-related offences, while two were for infringement of copyright law.

His most recent conviction was recorded at Dublin Circuit Court last year for a €500 heroin-dealing offence for which he had received a suspended sentence.

Doherty was caught on CCTV withdrawing the money from his own bank account shortly after each victim made a lodgement.

The court heard he had been approached by two other men and he consented to his bank account being used for the fraud.  He received €10 for every €100 victims lodged into his account. Doherty co-operated fully in the ensuing investigation.

The court heard he had been addicted to heroin at the time but was now drug-free, complying fully with all directions of the probation service and was stable, according to his doctor, on a methadone treatment programme.

Doherty’s barrister said €2,000 in cash had been lodged initially with the court to secure Doherty’s bail and his mother, who was present in court, was willing to pay the balance, so that the victims could all be recompensed.

Doherty, he said, was now the father of two young children, he had completely turned his life around and was now a law-abiding citizen.

Reading a very favourable probation report, Judge Rory McCabe agreed that Doherty had made great strides at rehabilitating himself and he said it would not be in the public interest or be in the interests of justice to impose an immediate custodial sentence.

To act as a deterrent, he said, he would suspend the sentences for five years and two years respectively on condition Doherty be of good behaviour and not reoffend for the next five years.

“I hope we don’t see you in here again,” Judge McCabe said to a very relieved-looking Doherty.

“Thanks very much for the chance.  I know I didn’t deserve it.  I’m delighted and thanks again,” Doherty said, beaming at the judge, while rubbing his hands together with glee.

“I hope society thanks me too,” the judge replied.

Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Galway during Storm Barra

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Arrangements have been made to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers ahead of Storm Barra hitting Galway in the morning.

Accommodation will be provided at locations including The Glenoaks in the Westside, the Fairgreen in the city centre and Osterley Lodge in Salthill (Contact 085 8009709 or 085 8009641).

The COPE Galway Day Centre will remain open all day Tuesday from 8.30am to closing.

Meanwhile, Galway City Council has warned that a number of roads may be closed in the morning ahead of high tide, including Salthill Prom.

Following ongoing meetings of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination group today and based on the latest information available, a number of precautionary measures have been put in place.

Road Closures:

  • Closure of Silverstrand Beach at 6pm Monday
  • Closure of Ballyloughane Beach at midnight (Local Traffic only)
  • Closure of Rosshill Road at 6am Tuesday
  • Closure of Salthill Promenade at midnight:
  • Blackrock Tower to Seapoint and onto Grattan Road. (Closure of Grattan Road may be required. Monitoring in place to decide.)
  • Potential closure of roads along the Claddagh, Docks and Spanish Arch from 5am Tuesday

A spokesperson said: “There may be further closures throughout the city as required and the situation will be closely monitored and regular updates given.  Motorists will experience delays as a result.”

The carparks at Toft Park and on the Promenade have been closed and all vehicle owners have been asked to move their vehicles from car parks and along the Prom.

Sand bags are now available at the following manned locations: the former Tourist Kiosk in Salthill (behind Seapoint); Claddagh Hall; Galway Fire Station; Spanish Arch; the Docks (beside the pedestrian crossing at St Nicholas Street).

“Anyone who avails of sandbags should retain them in their possession for use throughout the upcoming winter season. Please do not take any more sandbags than you need,” the Council spokesperson said.

“The main impacts will include strong winds, falling trees and potential flooding.  High tide in Galway Bay will be at 6.45am Tuesday.

“Some trees may be compromised due to saturated soils at the moment, and with more rain forecast with Storm Barra some disruption due to falling trees/branches is likely. Heavy rain, coupled with falling leaves may block drains and gullies, leading to surface flooding. Galway City Council staff have been carrying out drainage maintenance across the city in advance of the storm to minimise potential flooding risks.

“Storm Barra will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts,” the Council said.

Business owners and homeowners are advised to check their own drains and secure any loose objects within their property in advance of the warning taking effect.

“Galway City Council advises remaining indoors during the period of the warning and, as always, to avoid coastal areas. Parks and other wooded areas should also be avoided, due to the danger of falling trees. If absolutely essential to travel, please exercise extreme caution out and about especially on coastal roads and exposed shores.

“City Council staff will be on standby for clean-up following the passing of Storm Barra and the associated warning once it has been deemed safe to do so.  Please note the associated clean-up which will commence on Wednesday morning may impact on traffic.”

Galway City Council Customer Services phone lines are available to deal with emergency calls on 091 536400. For the Galway County Council area, the phone number is 091 509069.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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