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Stalker jailed for attack on pregnant woman in Galway



Stalker attacks pregnant woman

A man who stalked a pregnant woman for over four kilometres as she walked to work through the city and then pulled her violently by the hair into bushes where he assaulted her, has been sentenced to four years in prison with the final year suspended.

Father of one, Trevor Gates (46), of 124 Fána Búrca , Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty last February at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to attempting to falsely imprison the woman at Tuam Road, Galway on September 12, 2013; with attempting to rob her and with seriously assaulting her.

Following his plea to those charges the State did not pursue two further charges against Gates of having a hunting knife in his possession on that date and again at Dublin Road a week later.

Detective John Lavery told the sentence hearing this week that the slightly-built 28-year-old woman, who was six-and-a-half months pregnant at the time, left her home in the Knocknacarra area at 7.05am and was walking to work in Mervue Industial Estate, a distance which normally took her one hour and 20 minutes to complete.

She was walking on the footpath, opposite the Allied Irish Bank on the Tuam Road, when she was suddenly attacked and dragged by the hair into the bushes in front of a muddy embankment, which skirts the industrial estate.

Det. Lavery said the woman was dragged through a gap in the fence by the accused.

She managed to hit him with her umbrella and he then let go of her hair. He blocked her way from getting back onto the footpath and she was forced to scramble up the muddy embankment to get away from him.

She ran the rest of the way to her work place where she reported the attack.

Det. Lavery said he trawled through CCTV footage taken from several buildings along the route the woman had taken through the city that morning and he pieced together enough footage to prove the accused, who was wearing a cap and high-visibility vest, had walked behind her while wheeling his mountain bike, for 4.2km.

“I established he had stalked her for 45 minutes at least,” Det. Lavery said.

After the attack, Gates fled on his mountain bike.

He was employed at the time as a contract cleaner and cycled to work each day to and from his home in Knocknacara to a job in Oranmore.

Det. Lavery said he got a positive identification of the accused on CCTV when he removed his cap after entering Merlin Stores to buy a paper, shortly after he had carried out the attack.

Det. Lavery said he didn’t know Gates at the time but he noticed him cycling on the dual carriageway near Oranmore five days later and followed him to his home in Knocknacarra. He was placed under surveillance and was arrested outside Merlin Stores on September 19.

Gates, he said, claimed the attack was not sexually motivated, maintaining instead that he intended to rob the woman’s handbag.

Det. Lavery said the woman suffered a very sore neck and scalp.

“He didn’t manage to pull her hair out, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying,” the detective observed.

“This was a very sinister attack. His actions could have been catastrophic because she was pregnant at the time,” Det. Lavery added.

A victim impact statement revealed the attack had a negative effect on the victim and her female co-workers who immediately changed their routes to work and still feel unsafe.

Prosecuting barrister Conor Fahy said the woman acted with great courage fighting off her attacker with her umbrella.

Det. Lavery said Gates, who comes from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, had been living with his partner and teenage daughter in Galway for twelve years.

Gates, he said, had two previous convictions in Northern Ireland for the indecent assault of two female juveniles and another conviction for robbery going back to 1988. He had another conviction recorded in 1985 for another indecent assault and attempted robbery.

Imposing sentence, Judge Rory McCabe said the woman was violently attacked.

He commended Det.Lavery for his “painstaking” investigation which helped intercept Gates.

The previous convictions in Northern Ireland were an aggravating factor, the judge noted, before sentencing Gates to four years in prison for the false imprisonment of the woman.

He imposed two concurrent three-year sentences on the accused for the assault and attempted robbery of the woman.

Judge McCabe then suspended the final year of the four-year sentence on the recommendation of a probation service report which suggested the accused would benefit from post-release supervision.

He placed Gates under the supervision of the probation service for twelve months on his release and recommended he receive assessment and counselling while serving his sentence.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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