Friday, November 20, 2020

A TRAMORE resident will serve a two-year prison term having been convicted on separate theft and assault charges at Waterford Circuit Court last week.

Eoin Galvin (born on April 15, 1984), with an address at Number 25, Atlantic Coast Apartments, Tramore, appeared before Judge Eugene O’Kelly on Tuesday last facing two charges.

The first related to the theft of 15 diamond rings from John Martin Jewellers, Barronstrand Street, Waterford on April 3, 2019, with a total value of €35,265, 14 of which were subsequently recovered. Galvin, who has 32 previous convictions, including four for theft and three for burglary, made admissions when questioned by Gardaí.

The second charge was in relation to an incident on May 11, 2019 on Tramore’s Lower Promenade in which Galvin was involved in an altercation with a 64-year-old man from Kilkenny who was visiting Tramore on a day trip with his wife.

In evidence, Garda Conor Murphy of Waterford Garda Station said he was on foot patrol in the city centre on April 3, 2019 when he was alerted to a theft at John Martin’s. He told Judge O’Kelly that two members of staff had been left in a distressed state following the incident.

Galvin had been in the store with his (then) partner prior to the incident, with CCTV footage later establishing that he had taken the tray of engagement rings and left the premises when staff had their backs to him.

Later that day, Galvin’s mother returned 14 of the 15 rings to Gardaí, which Galvin had brought to his maternal grandmother’s home where he’d been staying “on and off”. The 15th and unrecovered ring, valued at €5,135 – the most valuable ring on that tray – has yet to be recovered.

Garda Murphy, in response to a question from Defence Counsel Paul Hutchinson, said Galvin had told him “he didn’t know where the (missing) ring was”.

Galvin was arrested that same day, initially offering no comment to Gardaí in Ballybricken before making admissions to the offence towards the end of the interview.

A brief victim impact statement prepared by John Martin Jewellers proprietor Dolores Hennebry was read in court by Garda Murphy, in which she noted “the emotional distress that it caused to the staff”.

Notwithstanding insurance cover, Garda Murphy told Prosecuting Counsel Conor O’Doherty that Mrs Hennebry was still out of pocket to the tune of €1,000 due to the theft and subsequent failure to recover the tray’s most expensive item.

Tramore altercation

Regarding the events of May 11, 2019 in Tramore, Garda Gordon Kelleher told Mr O’Doherty that John Broderick had been injured during a physical exchange with Galvin outside the public toilets on Tramore’s Lower Prom. The incident had been partially captured on a fixed CCTV camera.

Prior to this, Mr Broderick had gone for a stroll with his wife and she had gone for a lengthier walk thereafter. Entering the nearby public toilet, he first encountered Galvin and later told Gardaí: “he came right up and directly looked at me, which I thought was odd.”

At the time, Galvin had a can of cider in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other. Moments later, Mr Broderick felt liquid being poured down the back of his neck, soaking both his neck and jacket. He walked away from Galvin in the direction of the skate park adjacent to the bathroom, said Garda Kelleher, before walking towards Galvin, asking him not to do that again.

Galvin, who had initially walked away, then followed Mr Broderick, who took his Samsung mobile phone out of his pocket to take a photo of the man who had just poured cider over him.

Galvin, wearing sunglasses, a green top and three-quarter length shorts, moved towards Mr Broderick and swung the champagne bottle at him (without connecting) before a grapple ensued. The bottle broke during the scuffle with its intact remnant, later retrieved by Gardaí, placed in a bin by an eyewitness.

The incident was partially recorded via CCTV while a video taken by a youth (who had run out of the skate park) on his mobile phone captured the end of the incident which appeared to show Galvin directing a kick into Mr Broderick’s head. This footage, later circulated on social media, was shown in court last week.

Mr Broderick, who’d had brain surgery in 2012 for the removal of blood clots, sustained injuries to his face and was left “highly disorientated following the assault”, later telling Gardaí: “I felt as if I’d received a knock-out punch.”

A subsequent head scan at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) recorded bruising to the injured party’s face and eyes along with a bump on the back of his head.

A swift arrest

At 3:16pm approximately, two Gardaí attending the scene received a description of the incident from witnesses. Galvin, who was known to local Gardaí, had left his phone at the scene – incidentally, Mr Broderick’s phone has yet to be recovered following the incident.

Garda Kelleher walked to the Atlantic Coast apartments, a short distance from the scene of the incident, where Galvin was a resident. Galvin, by then wearing jeans, answered Garda Kelleher’s knock. Galvin, who was cautioned by Garda Kelleher, claimed he had acted in self-defence, alleging that a threat had been made against his two children. He was arrested at approximately 3:35pm. The court was told that Mr Broderick wasn’t in court for the sentencing “due to the Covid-19 circumstances”.

Paul Hutchinson BL told the court that Eoin Galvin had “a history of significant mental illness”, which included schizoaffective disorder.

During the incident, Mr Hutchinson’s client had “a genuinely held belief” that he was under threat from the injured party, claiming that Mr Broderick had attempted “a martial arts move” against him. Galvin did remember the incident “but not so well”.

Galvin, whose parents broke up prior to his birth, had been primarily raised by his maternal grandparents, while his “father has been absent throughout his life”.

His mother, who was not in court was part of a supportive family unit surrounding Galvin, said Mr Hutchinson, with a letter submitted to the court underlining their support. Two of Galvin’s granduncles, both diagnosed with schizophrenia, are long-term residents at St Otteran’s Hospital.

Mood stabilising medication

A father of two children, Galvin was expelled from school aged 14 and has a long history of engagement with psychiatric services, including a voluntary admission to Dublin’s Central Mental Hospital. He has also experienced problems with cocaine, cannabis, benzodiazepine and alcohol use. Mr Hutchinson said Galvin (who had been on remand at Cork Prison) is currently on a range of mood stabilising and anti-psychotic medication.

Galvin had accepted his responsibility in the matter brought before Judge O’Kelly, expressing “since remorse to Mr Broderick” and wished to acknowledge that his victim hadn’t done anything wrong on the day of the assault.

In issuing his sentence, Judge O’Kelly said that without the prior knowledge of his then girlfriend, Galvin had used her to facilitate the theft of the rings from John Martin’s, under the pretence of buying her an engagement ring.

Placing the offence at the beginning of the mid-range of sentencing, Judge O’Kelly noted Galvin’s guilty plea and schizoaffective disorder in mitigation, reducing an initial three-year sentence to two years.

Regarding the “senseless, unprovoked attack” on Mr Broderick, Judge O’Kelly said Galvin had later provided Gardaí with “a completely false version of events”.

On the day of the incident, Galvin could not be questioned by officers until eight hours after his arrest given his level of intoxication.

Placing the offence at the upper end of the mid-scale of such offences, the Judge noted the content of the letter submitted by Galvin’s family – albeit one which did not note any concern for Mr Broderick – along with Galvin’s history of psychiatric illness. Judge O’Kelly sentenced Galvin to two-and-a-half years, suspending the final six months on condition that Galvin abstains from drugs and alcohol for two years. Judge O’Kelly backdated Galvin’s sentence to November 25, 2019.

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