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Trial collapses of teacher charged with sexual exploitation

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The trial of a teacher charged with the sexual exploitation of a pupil over an eight-month period, came to an abrupt end last week when the girl admitted to a jury that it had never happened.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied eight charges of using a child for sexual exploitation, by inviting, inducing or coercing the child to engage in sexual, indecent or obscene acts, contrary to Section 3 (2) of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, on dates between December, 2011, and July, 2012.

The alleged offences came to light when the girl went to her school principal, accompanied by her parents on June 27, 2012 and made a complaint about the teacher.

The girl, who is now aged 20, told a jury of six men and six women at Galway Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday that the man had taught her for the three-year junior cycle at and when she was in third year, then aged 15, he asked to ‘friend’ her on Facebook.

She agreed and after that she gave him her phone number.

The young woman sobbed as she told the trial the man regularly texted her and he would pick her up at weekends in his car.  She said he would give her bottles of Buckfast, cigarettes and phone credit.

She claimed that he brought her to isolated locations where he would perform a sexual act on himself or get her to do it for him.

Under cross-examination by Garnet Orange, SC, defending, the witness admitted she was drinking heavily and her parents were having difficulties controlling her when she was 15.

She admitted that while drunk on one occasion she went off in a van with a group of men she didn’t know and her friends were worried about her.

She also admitted, during cross-examination that she had asked the teacher to send her a friend request on Facebook and she regularly texted him to meet her for the purpose of getting alcohol, cigarettes or money from him.

Mr Orange said the witness had asked his client to send her a friend request and he foolishly did that.

“Some time after that you and he became a little bit closer.  He started confiding in you even though at the time he was in his late forties and you were 15.  That was odd but you learnt a lot about his family circumstances.

“He was a shy, quiet man who was going through a lot at the time and was drinking a lot. He told you that he needed help and you later described him to Gardai as a shy and nervous man and a bit ‘innocent’ and he befriended you,”  Mr Orange put to the witness.

During further cross-examination the witness said she could not remember exact dates or the frequency of the alleged incidents in the man’s car because she was drunk at the time.

Mr Orange put it to her that she was blackmailing his client.  He said his client and the girl had started kissing once but it had been a very brief incident.  He said that was all that happened between them and that the girl had begun to blackmail his client so that she could have a regular supply of alcohol, cigarettes, cash and phone credit.

“You contacted him whenever you needed alcohol or phone credit and he would just drive to meet you and hand out two bottles of Buckfast and then just drive away,” Mr Orange said.

“Yeah,” she replied.

The girl claimed she would go on some occasions with the accused in his car “as part of the transaction” and perform a sexual act on him.

“After this happened the first time, why did you get back into his car a second or third time?” Mr Orange asked.

“Because I was getting free drink,” she replied sobbing.

Mr Orange put it to her that her sister became concerned when she noticed she had more money than she should have had.

The witness agreed the money had come from the accused.

“The two of you started to kiss and it was all a very, very brief incident and that was the extent of if and I suggest that is the reason all of his happened.

“You had this thing over him,” Mr Orange said.

“I was only 15,” the woman sobbed.

“We all know that but perhaps, you were a lot more worldly-wise than a lot of 15-year-olds,” Mr Orange put to her.

The girl admitted she could have once said to the accused:  “If you get me drunk, I’ll ride you.”

Mr Orange conceded she might not have intended to do that, but that had been the expression she had used.

Mr Orange said his client started to refuse to get alcohol for the girl on the fifth occasion they met and he put it to the witness that she got “nasty” after that.

“You told him, ‘I’ll make you pay for what you did to me,’ didn’t you?” he said.

“I could have done,” the witness replied.

“The awfulness of what had happened became apparent to him; that you knew you had him ‘over a barrel’.  You had his neck in a noose and the only question was, when were you going to pull the lever?

“Even after the meeting with the school principal in June 2012, you were sending my client ‘call me’ text messages but he just wanted ‘out’.

He was buying you drink, cigarettes and phone credit and was so tormented he even gave you cash.

“You and your friends decided to have this eejit to come any weekend, at the drop of a hat, and give you drink and cigarettes and leave after a couple of minutes and this situation carried on until June 2012 to your benefit

“Then, your sister found out about it and it all kicked off from there and that was the end of ‘the gravy train’,” Mr Orange put to the witness.

“You were blackmailing him but the only thing that happened between you was that one kiss.”

Mr Orange said to the witness that his client did accept he had behaved “extremely badly” and that he should never have engaged in such contact with a pupil.

“But he saw you as a shoulder to cry on, not withstanding the age difference. He took you to be a friend and he never asked you to perform sexual acts,” Mr Orange said.

“I’m accepting it never happened,” the witness replied to the surprise of everyone present.

Judge Rory McCabe immediately sent the jury home for the night and on Thursday morning, Mr Shane Costelloe SC, prosecuting, said – in the absence of the jury – the DPP was withdrawing all eight charges against the accused and wished to enter a nolle prosequi in the matter.

Judge McCabe told the jurors the trial was not proceeding any further and he discharged them.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara

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Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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