Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


DNA samples help catch burglar who ransacked city schools



The national DNA Database System, which was introduced this time last year to target serial offenders, linked one such “career criminal” to burglaries which occurred on the same night at two Galway city schools earlier this year.

Dr Sylvia Waldron from the Forensic Science Laboratory told a hearing at Galway District Court that a DNA sample taken from blood found at the scene of one of the burglaries matched a DNA profile stored on the database which belonged to Dominick Starczewski (27), of no fixed abode and Firhouse, Dublin 24.

“There’s less than one in a thousandth millionth chance of finding a similar DNA profile from another person – and even that is quite a conservative figure.

And it’s one in five to six million chances that the DNA could come from a sibling,” Dr Waldron added.

Starczewski, an only child, denied he was involved in burglaries at St. Patrick’s National School, Lombard Street, and at the former Adult Education Centre at Merchant’s Road, in the early hours of Saturday morning, January 22 last.

Caretakers from both schools gave evidence they had locked and secured their respective premises on the Friday evening.

However, it was discovered both premises had been burgled over that weekend.

While an estimated €200 was taken from the petty cash box at the Adult Education Centre, two laptops which contained vital educational data along with one teacher’s research notes for her Masters, were stolen from two classrooms at St. Patrick’s.

Garda Denis Sweeney, from the Crime Scene Investigation Unit, told the hearing he found blood on shards of glass where the burglar had gained entry through a glass fanlight over the door leading to one of the classrooms in St. Patrick’s.

He took a swab of blood and sent it off to the Forensic Science Laboratory.

Garda Pat Fahy, who had investigated both break-ins, gave evidence that Starczewski did not become a suspect until Dr Waldron confirmed that the DNA profile taken from the swab that Garda Sweeney had sent to the laboratory, matched that of the accused, whose DNA profile was already stored on the database as he was a repeat offender.

He said the accused was already serving a ten-month sentence at the Midlands Prison for other burglaries when he took a saliva swab from his mouth last August.

Gardaí obtained a court order, permitting him to take the swab from the suspect.

That swab was also sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory and it matched the DNA found on the swab sent initially by Garda Sweeney.

Garda Fahy said the accused refused to answer any questions in relation to both burglaries and he refused to sign a document which confirmed a DNA sample had been taken from him.

Judge Fahy was shown CCTV footage from the former Adult Education Centre at Merchant’s Road, which clearly showed the accused putting on two pairs of gloves before he smashed through the door to gain entry to the premises.

Starczewski declined to give evidence in his defence.

Convicting the accused of both offences, Judge Fahy said she could see him quite plainly on the CCTV while the DNA sample clearly placed him at the scene of the crime at St. Patrick’s.

Garda Fahy said the accused had 30 previous convictions, six of which were for burglaries and seven more for thefts.  He had two more for trespassing and another for assault.

The accused, he said, had finished his sentence in September and he had been held on remand for these charges since.

Judge Fahy noted the loss of the data stored on both computers at St. Patrick’s was “tremendous”, particularly for the teacher whose research notes for her Masters were lost.

She said it was worse when you could see this was done by a career criminal who had spent most of his time in this country in prison for other burglaries and for trespassing.

She said the weight of evidence against him was huge and she imposed the maximum sentence of twelve months in prison on him for the burglary charge in relation to the break-in at St. Patrick’s School.

“He is a recidivist.  He has shown no remorse and so I’m imposing the maximum sentence for that,” Judge Fahy explained.

She then imposed a consecutive, five-month sentence on the accused for the second break-in which she backdated to October 19 last.

Leave to appeal the sentences was granted.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

Continue Reading