Date Published: 18-Dec-2009
A former colleague robbed staff at the Clayton Hotel at gun and knifepoint, cycling away with €1,700 cash which he desperately needed to pay off his debts and child maintenance arrears.
Former night porter, David Vallot, a native of Limerick with an address at 66 Altan Apartments, Western Distributor Road, was wearing a balaclava and combat jacket and was carrying an imitation revolver and large Rambo-style knife when he cycled to the hotel in Briarhill and gained access via a rear storeroom where he disabled the fuse box, plunging the ground floor area into darkness at around 4.30am on February 13 last.
Three of his former colleagues who were on duty that morning recognised Vallot by his voice and also by his eyes, even though he was wearing a balaclava.
Vallot pleaded guilty at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to robbing manager, FrankDoherty of €1,768. He also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Mr Doherty along with two other members of staff and to having an imitation hand gun and a knife in his possession with intent to commit a robbery on the same date.
Detective Garda John Moloney told the court that Vallot arrived at the hotel at 2.30am but it took him two hours to build up the courage to carry out the robbery.Martin McKenna and Frank Doherty were in reception when the lights went out Vallot jumped out and got Mr McKenna to kneel on the ground at gunpoint when he went to check the fuse box in the storeroom.
He tied his hands behind his backwith tape and used him as a hostage telling him they would go to reception to get the keys to the safe room.
Mr Doherty was becoming concerned about McKenna and he met Anne Steele on her way into work that morning and told her about the lights going out. They heard noise coming from the safe room and found Mr McKenna being held as a hostage by Vallot.
Mr McKenna told Mr Doherty to do exactly as Vallot told him. The victim later told Gardaí he would feel Vallot was “shaking like a leaf” as he held him at gunpoint and he feared for his life.
Mr Doherty got the keys to the safe and all three staff were told to go to the safe room. They opened the safe and put the money in a black plastic bag for Vallot. Both Mr Doherty and Ms Steele were told to throw their mobile phones out of the office and Vallot then locked them in the office.
He brought Mr McKenna to the basement and told him to stay there until he was gone and not call the Gardaí. Vallot then cycled as fast as he could to Carnmore Cross, turning left for Claregalway before doubling back to the city via the Corinthians rugby grounds where he hid the balaclava, gun, knife and jacket along with over €200 in coins taken in the robbery under palm trees.
Gardaí were soon alerted and staff told them they thought Vallot was involved because they recognised his voice and eyes. Vallot admitted Gardaí to his apartment a short time later and admitted his guilt. He handed over €1,500 which he had hidden in his bedroom and told them about his hiding place under palm trees at the rugby grounds.
Det Moloney said Vallot had worked as a night porter at the Clayton up to a few months previously but had been let go. Vallot, he said, had written letters of apology to all three staff members and they accepted his apology to a point, but all were very shaken by the experience and were still very wary and edgy in their workplace.
The detective said Vallot had not realised the seriousness of his crime until it was explained to him during interview at the Garda station. “The realisation of being arrested and charged brought it home to him just how serious this was,” he said.
Judge Raymond Groarke said he accepted Vallot had acted out of desperation but that was no excuse for him go armed with weapons and a balaclava to the hotel and terrorise his former colleagues. This, he said,was an armed robbery and he had a term of four years in prison in mind.
“The robbery was a shambles and he didn’t know how serious his crime was until sitting in the Garda station and then the ‘penny dropped’. One has to wonder at the naivety and casual stupidity rather than the criminal evil of the man,” the judge said before remanding Vallot in custody to April 29 next year to finalise the sentence.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE
GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.
The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.
There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.
It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.
Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.
Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.
Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.
Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.
Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.
Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013