Large garda presence
for Athlone case

There was a heavy garda presence ahead of the hearing.
Close on 30 extra gardaí had to be drafted into Longford District Court last week for the first court appearance of a man accused of raping two young girls in Athlone.

Close on 30 extra gardaí had to be drafted into Longford District Court last week for the first court appearance of a man accused of raping two young girls in Athlone.

Four patrol cars carrying up to eight members of the Regional Support Unit were also in place for a hearing that lasted no more than 15 minutes.

Garda bosses made the decision to bring in extra officers after more than 300 people staged a protest outside Athlone Garda Station less than 24 hours earlier while the suspect was being questioned by detectives.

He had been detained over the alleged attacks which took place the previous weekend as both girls attended a birthday party in the midlands town.

The accused, a 30-year-old man, was charged with four counts of rape against a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old girl at last Tuesday’s weekly court sitting in Longford.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared for a second time last Friday, this time at Harristown District Court where he was further remanded in custody.

Meanwhile, the Leader has also learned the man was held overnight at a holding cell at Longford Garda Station and not Athlone as had been widely reported by several other media outlets.

Despite the large numbers of gardaí present at last week’s initial hearing, any associated costs were kept to a premium as most, if not all ,officers were on duty at the time.