A convicted rapist has been sentenced to four months in prison for exposing himself on a bus as it traveled along Headford Road towards Galway city for two consecutive days last summer.
Gareth Rooney, 61, 67 Caireal Mór, Headford Road, Galway, who has been on the sex offenders register since his conviction in 1995 for the rape, assault and forcible confinement of a woman in England, was also sentenced to six consecutive years. one-month sentence in Galway District Court for failing to notify Galway gardaí that he had changed his address, on a date between May 25 and June 4, as required by the provisions of the Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.
Rooney came to court – knowing he would go to jail – with his backpack packed and pleaded guilty to breaching the terms of the sex offender register as stated above.
He also pleaded guilty to two other charges of exposing his genitals on a Bus Éireann bus traveling on Headford Road on May 31 and again on June 1, with intent to cause fear, distress or harm. alarm in another person contrary to section 45(1) of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses) Act 2017.
Sergeant Stan O’Grady, prosecuting, said the bus driver stopped the bus twice on Headford Road and waited for gardaí to arrive following complaints from passengers that Rooney was exposing himself.
Gardaí viewed CCTV from the bus on June 1 and again from the previous morning, which captured Rooney rehearsing the act in front of passengers of varying ages.
When Rooney was arraigned in Galway District Court on October 3 in connection with the exposure charges, Judge Mary Cashin, who was presiding that day, asked to see CCTV footage from both dates for the record. help decide whether or not to accept jurisdiction to have the charges dealt with at the district court level.
After viewing the CCTV in open court, Judge Cashin accepted his jurisdiction and released Rooney on bail to appear in court this week.
Detective Gerry Carroll testified this week that he had been responsible for checking that Rooney complied with the conditions of the Sex Offender Register since he came to live at an address in Galway city center in December 2013.
He said Rooney was given seven years for the rape and three years for the false imprisonment charge, as well as a concurrent three years for the assault charge at Ipswich Crown Court on 21 March 2005.
He said he had been in charge of monitoring him in Galway since 2013 and would call on him twice a year to monitor him.
He did not get an answer when he called the apartment on January 2. He phoned Rooney who told him he had moved in with a friend in Caireal Mór.
Detective Carroll said Rooney confessed to him that he had moved into the Headford Road address ten days earlier.
Detective Carroll said he explained to Rooney his obligations under the Sex Offenders Act that he should have informed the gardaí of his move.
In response to Judge Mary Fahy, Rooney said he and the woman had a platonic friendship.
Detective Carroll confirmed to the judge that the woman was aware of Rooney’s obligations under the Sex Offenders Act. He said the accused updated his contact details on the register as soon as he contacted him.
“To be fair to him, I don’t think he realized the seriousness of what he was doing at the time, but at the same time he knew he had done the wrong thing,” Detective Carroll said. .
Defense barrister Olivia Traynor said Rooney had consistently complied with the requirements since moving to Galway in 2013.
“Having spent ten years in prison for serious offenses and now we are faced with him twice exposing his genitals on a bus.
“Anyone who would do that would be disturbing, but when someone with serious prior convictions like him does that, the court has to mark him,” Judge Fahy said.
Ms Traynor said her client first appeared in court two weeks before on the charges and then gave a plea to each.
“He knows how serious it is and he has no illusions about what the court will do and should do. He was identified at the scene on June 1 and also the day before,” she said.
A victim impact statement was provided to the court by one of the passengers. Judge Fahy read the statement but did not disclose much of its contents.
However, the judge said that while the woman was very upset that someone did this twice on a bus full of people, including young children, she would be even more upset to learn now if she was in court that the accused was a condemned sex. offender who had served ten years in prison.
“How do you think she will feel?” She will be extremely scared. And he did it two days in a row. I’m sure others saw it and didn’t want to get involved.
“This lady was on the bus on her way to work, so she was terrified and confused by this man and she was also upset because there were young children on the bus,” Judge Fahy said, referring to the woman’s impact statement.
Mr Traynor asked the court to consider putting his client in touch with the probation service upon his release from any sentence the court imposes.
Noting that changes were coming to the sex offender registry legislation as it was not easy to monitor at present, Judge Fahy said Rooney should have been fully compliant, having served ten years of jail and under the circumstances, she said, she was an imposing six months in jail for that offence.
She imposed a consecutive four-month prison sentence for the exposure offense committed on the bus on June 1. Another four-month sentence was imposed for the offense committed on May 31, which was suspended for two years on the condition that Rooney bind himself with the probation service for six months after his release from prison.