‘Madam, you’re bleeding the system’

Judge James O'Connor refused to return bus money to woman.

A Romanian woman who pulled out bundles of €50 notes to peel off €100 towards securing her release on bail, was ordered by a judge to “hand the whole lot over, and the rest”, referring to sterling that she had separated from her euros and placed inside her blouse in the court.

Judge James O’Connor earlier said she was “bleeding the system” and could well understand English without the need for an interpreter. He also refused the woman’s request, conveyed through her solicitor, to return a small amount of the money, for the bus back to Millstreet, Co Cork.

Sgt Kieran O’Connell was ordered by Judge James O’Connor to count the money and found a total of 1,450 in €50 denominations and a further £140 sterling.

Terca Munteanu, aged 38, of Mill Road, Millstreet, Co Cork, was before Tralee District Court, Tuesday, May 31, in custody on foot of a bench warrant, having failed to appear on May 11 last.

She had been remanded on bail on March 2 when she appeared on a charge of stealing Hennessey brandy and washing powder with a total value of €110 from Centra on Main Street, Dingle on December 28, 2015.

At the start of the proceedings, solicitor Pat Enright, said the matter could not be concluded until a Romanian interpreter was present but Judge O’Connor said: “These people couldn’t give two hoots… Madam, you’re bleeding the system.”

The solicitor said his client had good reason not to appear on May 11 as she was back in Romania at the time to sort travel documents. She was pleading guilty to the theft.

When she started crying, the judge said he had seen “too much of that old stuff,” and said to her: “You understand English very well.”

However the judge agreed to defer the matter for an interpreter, and remanded her in custody with consent to bail on a bond of €1,000. Judge O’Connor asked if she had cash for bail and after consulting with Ms Munteanu, Mr Enright said Munteanu told him she didn’t have much but could offer €100.

The woman stepped forward to sign the bail bond and the judge said: “Don’t mind your sobbing… your English is not that bad at all, madam, not that bad at all.”

Ms Munteanu signed the bond and then took out bundles of notes from a purse and peeled off €100, putting some inside her blouse. However the judge said: “Hold on! Take all that out... and the rest that you put back in.”

An application for legal aid was deferred and continues to be deferred from the previous sittings. Ms Munteanu is to appear again in June.


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