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Connacht Tribune

Victim wanted paedophile named to protect others

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A 70-year-old paedophile has been spared a prison sentence, after his victim said she wanted him identified rather than jailed so that other children can be protected from him.

Gerry Kelly, from Beech Lawn, Ballinasloe, received a three-year suspended prison sentence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

He has also been placed on the Sex Offender’s Register indefinitely.

Kelly had denied six sample charges of indecently assaulting a then vulnerable teenage girl, in circumstances which included oral rape, on dates between January 7, 1985 and January 6, 1986, when the matter first came before the court for trial last February.

A jury was empanelled but shortly before the trial was due to start, Kelly pleaded guilty to one charge of indecently assaulting the girl on dates between November 7, 1985 and January 6, 1986.

Prosecuting barrister, Geri Silke withdrew the remaining five charges and said the matter could be dealt with on a full facts basis.

Sentence was adjourned to last Thursday for Kelly’s defence team to obtain a psychological report under the Free Legal Aid Scheme.

Detective Adrian Fehily, Ballinasloe Garda Station, told the sentence hearing other totally separate matters were being investigated when these offences came to light.

He said the abuse occurred when the vulnerable girl was allowed to attend nightclubs at a very young age.

Kelly was 37 and married when he met the girl in 1985, while working as a bouncer at the East County Hotel nightclub.

He had previously worked in maintenance at Portiuncula Hospital before becoming a woodwork instructor for FAS. He retired from that job in 2014.

Garda Fehily said Kelly befriended the girl, often driving her home when the nightclub finished.

The girl began to trust and confide in him, telling him all her troubles. He comforted her, gave her advice and even offered to bring her to see a psychiatrist.

Kelly began to drive her to isolated areas outside Ballinasloe where he would sexually abuse her.

“No threats or coercion were used and at the time, she believed it was a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

“Looking back now, she sees it as something different and she wants him to acknowledge what he did was wrong,” Garda Fehily said.

He said Kelly’s guilty plea had been important to the complainant, who did not wish to be in court, and she hoped the sentence hearing would now bring some closure and she could get on with her life.

“She had a fear of the court process and feared having to appear in court.

“Her motivation was never for him to get a custodial sentence.  Her motivation has always been to protect other children from him and that he understand the seriousness of what he did.

“Things are improving for her now with the help of her family and closure will come today, hopefully,” Garda Fehily said.

He said Kelly was now aged 70 and had no previous convictions.

Paul Flannery SC, defending, said Kelly was “a valued member of society all through his life” and he had thought the girl was older at the time.

He said it was very fair of the complainant to indicate she had no interest in seeing Kelly go to prison.

A letter of apology from Kelly to the complainant was read into evidence.

Kelly wrote he wanted to apologise for the hurt he caused her, adding he hoped his guilty plea spared her more upset and anguish.

“For whatever it’s worth, I would like you to know I’m truly sorry,” his letter read.

Ms Silke confirmed the woman wanted Kelly identified so long as she was not identified.

Judge Rory McCabe said the abuse had a significant impact on the complainant, being exploited when she was a troubled and vulnerable child.

“He used her for his own sexual gratification.  That she trusted and confided in him makes this even more serious.  Her attitude, as evidenced in her victim impact statement, is notable.

“She acts with dignity and charity, in stark contrast to Kelly’s callous and deceitful behaviour towards her,” the judge said.

He placed the offences in the mid-range on the scale of gravity, stating that the headline sentence was five years.

The judge said he had to take mitigating factors into account before deciding on the appropriate sentence and those were: Kelly’s plea of guilty, albeit it only came after a jury had been picked and ready to go to trial, and that, he said, highlighted the charitable approach of the complainant while, in contract, casting a shadow on Kelly’s attitude.

“He says he’s sorry in the letter and he co-operated with the investigation but in so far as that goes, he didn’t admit his guilt until the very last minute,” the judge observed.

He said that in cases such as this an immediate custodial sentence would be warranted and inevitable but given the complainant’s Christian attitude, he had reluctantly been persuaded to impose a three-year suspended sentence instead.

“He is a sex offender and is now on the Sex Offender’s Register and that in itself is punishment,” the judge observed, before binding Kelly to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the next three years.

Connacht Tribune

Just the spirit

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Gareth and Michelle McAllister pictured at the old mill in Ahascragh where the new whiskey and gin distillery will be estabished. Photos: Gerry Stronge.

A former grain mill in the village of Ahascragh is being converted into a distillery thanks to Gareth and Michelle McAllister who have big plans to meet growing demand for craft Irish whiskey and gin in the Far East as well as closer to home. They are also developing a visitor centre in the distillery and are currently offering people a chance to invest in their company as DECLAN TIERNEY learns.

A product that will be developed in the East Galway village of Ahascragh will find its way Asia and various other parts of the world following a courageous initiative by a couple who aim to become huge names in the distillery industry.

Given their thirst for the distilling of craft whiskey and gin, Dublin couple Gareth and Michelle McAllister are set to put the tiny village on the international map by transforming an old corn mill into a major employer as well as a tourist attraction as part of a €10 million investment.

Works have already started on giving the old mill, previously an ivy-clad eyesore in the village, a brand-new look and the couple hope to go into full production by the end of next year – ready for the 2022 Christmas market.

Employment has already commenced in the marketing and administration end of the distillery and when it’s in full production, Gareth and Michelle will create around 40 new jobs in the village.

They will be producing two whiskey products and one gin when they’re at full capacity but already they are bottling a single malt under their own product name. This is currently on the market . . . and is proving particularly popular, despite limited availability at the moment.

The distillery is a labour of love for Gareth, a chemical engineer by profession, and Michelle who worked as a psychologist but is now operating the café in Ahascragh that they opened earlier this year to coincide with the launch of the distillery.

Both worked in China for seven years in different roles and while there, they discovered that there was a big demand for Irish-made spirits. They are now determined to explore this particular niche in the market as well as developing outlets across Europe and in the market here at home.

“This has been foremost in our plans and aspirations for some considerable time,” explained Gareth. “Since our time in Asia and Singapore we discovered that Irish spirits were a much sought-after product. As part of my training as a chemical engineer, distilling formed part of this.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Fascinating final in store but St Thomas’ hold most of the aces

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Salthill/Knocknacarra's Niall McGauran on the attack against Luke Murray of Dunmore MacHales during Saturday's County U19 football A final at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ST Thomas’ will be attempting to achieve what has proven beyond three great Galway club hurling teams over the past 30 years when targeting a four-in-a-row of senior titles at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. During their respective periods of dominance Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna were nearly untouchable on their best days, but winning four consecutive county senior hurling championships proved a bridge too far for each of these former powers.

Athenry went the closest of them all. Heading to Duggan Park in October 2001 – the last senior final to be played in Ballinasloe – Pat Nally’s troops stood 60 minutes away from claiming a fourth title on the trot. The red-hot favourites came mightily close too, only losing by a point (0-18 to 2-11) to a Clarinbridge outfit winning their first ever title.

Portumna pulled off the title hat-trick in 2009, but didn’t make it back to the following year’s final, and while Sarsfields – under Michael Conneely – triumphed in 1992, ’93 and ’95, they came unstuck in the 1994 decider when falling to Athenry (2-6 to 0-9). These three clubs were outstanding ambassadors for Galway club hurling, but there was no four-in-a row for any of them.

It underlines how difficult the achievement is and we must go back to the Turloughmore team of the sixties for a club to enjoy such an extended stranglehold on the county championship. They ended up winning six titles on the trot, but have only won the one since – in 1985 when overcoming Killimordaly (1-14 to 1-4) at Pearse Stadium.

Given that St Thomas’ are only one hour away from a fourth consecutive title, it’s curious that they are not yet held in the same awe as Sarsfields, Athenry or Portumna when they were at the peak of their powers. Perhaps, their lone All-Ireland club success up to now may have some influence in this regard.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
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

Students see red over in-person exams

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NUIG.

NUI Galway has moved this week to deny accusations that it is ‘playing Russian Roulette’ with students’ wellbeing by proceeding with in-person exams.

The Students’ Union blasted the university for its decision to forge ahead with examinations in exam halls amid sky-rocketing Covid-19 cases.

President of the SU, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, slammed college authorities for what she described as a ‘reckless attitude to students’ health and wellbeing’.

“The stubborn refusal by university management is playing Russian Roulette with the health of students and their families.

“We are talking about forcing people to attend multiple spreader-events right before they go home to their families for Christmas. This is reckless and irresponsible from university management, particularly when there is a tried and trusted alternative available,” said the student leader.

In-person exams for the vast majority of students were cancelled last year as the university remained closed throughout the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions.

However, students have been back attending lectures since September and NUIG plans to proceed with normal exams for the first time since Summer 2019 – albeit with a number of risk mitigating measures in place.

The Connacht Tribune has learned that following applications by in excess of 500 students for ‘reasonable accommodation’ – where certified conditions that increase the risk of adverse reaction to Covid infection – there will be 1,600 instances where exams will be sat in individual rooms.

It is understood that there are 16 exam venues this year – a much greater number than in previous years – and that additional cleaning measures including ‘air fogging’ will be carried out to sanitise large venues.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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