Scam collection for suicide charity was particularly mean, says judge

A scam collection for a suicide charity was particularly mean thing to do, a sentencing judge said yesterday.

Garda Shane Coakley arrested three people from Galway carrying out the scam collections in Cork City on November 24, 2015.

The collections were not authorised by the charity Suicide Aware, and permission had not been granted by gardaí.

“We all know the problem with suicide in this country,” said Judge Leo Malone.

“It is a particularly mean thing to do — without the authority of the charity and without permits from An Garda Síochána — some people were duped into contributing to that worthy cause. It was an opportunistic offence, scamming the public.”

Shane Sweeney, aged 30, of 79 Castlepark, Ballybane, Galway; Ann Marie Barrett, aged 40, of 175 Castlepark, Ballybane; and Roseanna Cleary, aged 32, of 75 Castlelawn Heights, Headford Rd, Galway, all pleaded guilty to carrying out collections without permits in Cork City centre last November.

Insp Adrian Gamble said Garda Coakley detected the offences at various times that day. The defendants had collection buckets and posters in the name of Suicide Aware. These were confiscated from them as was a small amount of money, no more than €50 between the three of them.

This money will now be sent to the charity to which the duped members of the public believed they were donating in the first place.

Judge Malone said that a jail sentence was merited in the case of Sweeney, as his previous convictions included a similar collection scam in Dingle, Co Kerry, last year.

However, following submissions from Donal Daly, solicitor, the judge said Sweeney could do 160 hours of community service instead of four months in jail.

He said Cleary could perform a similar period of community service.

Barrett was fined €500 as her only convictions were under the Road Traffic Act, while Cleary had more criminal convictions related to theft.


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