Mother facing jail for shoplifting €15 worth of goods including Red Bull and marshmallows

A mother of four is facing jail after stealing four cans of Red Bull and two packets of marshmallows from a shop.

Nora McDonagh appeared before Bandon District Court in Co. Cork to plead guilty to a shoplifting charge on February 10 last in Kinsale, with Judge James McNulty hearing that the value of the items taken from Eurospar in the town was €15.40.

Gardaí dealing with an unrelated matter almost two weeks later identified Ms McDonagh, of 13 Friar St in Cork city, from CCTV footage of the shoplifting incident. Under interview, she admitted the offence.

The 25-year-old had six previous convictions, including five for theft, and had a number of suspended sentences hanging over her when she committed the offence in Kinsale, including a six-month suspended jail term handed down by a different court.

Her solicitor, Eamonn Fleming, said his client was a mother to four children aged between one and five, one of whom had a disability.

"She is really fearful of prison," Mr Fleming said, adding that she had brought €100 to court in compensation, a figure he said would hurt his client as she was in receipt of €229 a week in social welfare payments.

Mr Fleming said Ms McDonagh had been released from medical care shortly before the shoplifting incident and was on "a lot of meds." "There was no rhyme nor reason to what she did," he said.

But Judge McNulty said Ms McDonagh had ignored the suspended sentences that she had previously received and that there was a time when your luck runs out.

"A suspended sentence is meant to mark the gravity of the matter and act as a deterrent," he said. "There comes a time when the court has to set boundaries and deliver consequences."

He initially suggested she could be detained overnight, with Mr Fleming arguing that was "draconian". The Judge convicted her but deferred penalty for 24 hours, with Ms McDonagh expected back in court.

The following day Ms McDonagh was not present in court, with Mr Fleming saying it was because the people who could provide childcare would not be arriving until later that day.

"Her only obligation was to be here," said the Judge. "It's not easy to sentence a mother of four, but this lady has five previous convictions for theft, the most recent was suspended for two years."

He sentenced her to 30 days in prison, adding: "This court could not deal with it on a suspended sentence basis. She is re-offending."

Recognisance for an appeal was set at Ms McDonagh's own bond of €100.

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