Sex offender was not at home when gardaí called

Jessica Thompson

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Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Sex offender was not at home when gardaí called

A man on the sex offenders register, charged with not notifying gardaí of a change of address, has had his case adjourned to July 17 for DPP directions.

James Gibson, with an address at Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown, is currently serving eight months in prison for a breach of his obligations under the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

He was produced in Granard District Court on Friday, June 19, where he was charged with not notifying gardaí of a change of address.

The prosecution initially had five garda witnesses who could give evidence of Mr Gibson being absent from his Lisnanagh address between April 7 and April 20, 2019, but not all five were present in court to give that evidence.

Sgt Paul Carney, who is responsible for the monitoring and supervision of subjects on the sex offenders act, explained to the court that, on November 11, 2014, Mr Gibson had pleaded guilty to the defilement of a female.

He was given three years in 2014 with the last year suspended, but Judge Keenan Johnson reactivated the final year of the sentence due to a breach.

“On his release from prison, he was placed on the sex offenders register,” Sgt Carney explained.

For that reason, Mr Gibson was obligated to provide gardaí with the address at which he would be staying. He nominated the address at Lisnanagh and it was alleged that on a number of occasions, he was not present when gardaí called to check he was there.

“Gardaí called at various times between April 7 and April 20, 2019, and he wasn’t there,” Sgt Carney explained.

“Personally, on April 13, 2019, between 12:05am and 1:50am, I called to the address on numerous occasions and he wasn’t present. On April 14, I called again and he wasn’t present.”

A number of other gardaí called at various times and also found the house to be empty. A statement from Gda Yvonne Glackin was read out in court and revealed that, on April 10, while she was on patrol, she met the owner of the house at Lisnanagh, who said there was illegal dumping going on at the property.

Gda Glackin called to the house and saw there was a lot of rubbish, but no sign of life. She called again at 12.35am on April 10, and again at 3.50am and there were no signs of life, the statement read.

Mr Gibson was arrested at 7.10pm on April 20, 2019, at Tesco carpark in Longford for not notifying gardaí of a change of address, Sgt Carney told the court.

“He offered various excuses, but none explained his absence,” he added.

A memorandum of interview from April 20, 2019, which was read out in court by Sgt Carney, revealed that Mr Gibson was not paying rent at the address because he was friends with the owner.

During that interview, Mr Gibson explained that there was illegal dumping done when he wasn’t home and that he’s not there during the day and often stays with a friend.

In a second interview, also read out by Sgt Carney, it was put to Mr Gibson that gardaí believed he had been asked to leave the premises on April 4, 2019.

Mr Gibson replied that he had argued with his friend who owned the house but that it had been resolved and he had returned to the house that night. He also said that he thought it was three consecutive nights he wasn’t allowed to be away.

When asked where he was on a specific date, at a specific time, he said “I don’t remember dates.”

“We’ve given a lot of dates that you weren’t home,” Sgt Carney put to him during the interview.

“I don’t spend much time at home. I get lonely,” Mr Gibson replied.

When asked how many times he had stayed at the address in the past month, Mr Gibson said that he didn’t know and that he hated being on his own because “it’s depressing”.

“It became clear to me that he was in breach of his obligations and that’s why he is before the court,” Sgt Carney explained.

On cross examination, solicitor for the defence, Patricia Cronin established that Mr Gibson has no curfew and is free to come and go, so there are no restrictions regarding the actual times he’s at home.

Evidence from two other gardaí was deemed irrelevant as it did not fall within the dates on the charge sheets.

“The state has not made their case because it’s not a breach unless it is seven days. There are four dates there,” said Ms Cronin, referring to April 10, April 13, April 14 and April 19.

“The prosecution are entitled to hear the defence, go away and reflect on it and then make a submission,” said Judge Hughes, adjourning the case to the next sitting of Granard District Court on July 17.