Saturday 29 October 2016

Shocked bar owner steps up to help tourists attacked in north Dublin park


Michael Wright. Wright's Cafe Bar, Swords, Dublin
Michael Wright. Wright's Cafe Bar, Swords, Dublin

A North Dublin businessman stepped up to offer his support to American tourists who were assaulted in the grounds of Swords Castle on Saturday night.

A couple from Boston and an 80-year old woman who was travelling with them were targeted by a gang of youths who attempted to steal their cameras.

The man in his 20s was beaten to the ground and was taken to Beaumont hospital with a fractured shoulder. A man was later arrested and subsequently released without charge.

The victim was left "very shaken" by the ordeal and was kept in hospital overnight for observation.

Michael Wright, who owns the Wright Venue in Swords, heard about the attacks and invited the trio to enjoy a dinner at another venture he owns, Hogs and Heifers in Airside.

READ MORE: Tourist has shoulder broken in mugging

"I heard what had happened and I was shocked that it happened here in Swords," he told the Herald. "Fingal County Council have done a lot of work to encourage tourists to the area and for that to happen with tourists was dreadful and would be unusual here."

The publican said that he hoped to restore their impression of the north Dublin town and extend them a warm welcome.

"On Sunday they came down and they were very appreciative," Mr Wright said.

The travellers have now continued their visit to other parts of Ireland but hope to return to the town despite their hellish ordeal.

Meanwhile, local councillor Adrian Henchy is calling for additional CCTV in the Fingal area to tackle crime and to act as a deterrent to those engaging in criminal behaviour, particularly in light of the mugging of tourists. Garda resources are stretched in the county and the Fianna Fail councillor believes that CCTV could be a major asset for gathering evidence about a range of offences.

"I think it's the only thing that will deter people from crime," Cllr Henchy said.

"Part of our strategy is to promote Swords as a tourism hub, and when something like that happens, even if they are caught, the damage is done."

CCTV cameras would also help to prevent crime in rural areas near the town, especially in places such as Rollerstown where there is no garda station.

"Some rural parts of Fingal have experienced some serious crimes in the past year, particularly aggravated burglaries and car theft," he explained.

The issue of CCTV in Swords also cropped up in a murder trial in the Central Criminal Court last week. A local man was cleared of murdering his former friend with a baseball bat during an altercation on the main street in Swords in October 2013.

Jooda Akanbi (39) was cleared of murdering 45-year-old Taiwo Jamani after a two-week trial in the central criminal court.

The incident was not captured on any of the 12 CCTV cameras in the area and jurors had to rely on witness accounts of the altercation. One witness described the events as "like something out of Star Wars".

Mr Akanbi's legal team told jurors that he acted in self defence. The jury deliberated for seven hours before returning a not guilty verdict.

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