Woman jailed over litter fine misses son’s birthday

THE pregnant Limerick woman who went to jail earlier this week because she refused to pay a small fine missed her young son’s birthday yesterday as she remained behind bars.

Jean Kelly, aged 36, of 33 Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, is only recently back from a two-week family holiday in Spain.

This week she chose to be a guest of the State rather than pay a €125 litter fine.

She is due for release today, having gone in last Monday when she presented herself at the prison gate.

Her partner, Patrick Woodland, last night said she was very upset at not being allowed out yesterday to be with her son — one of her eight children — to celebrate his eighth birthday.

Her children are aged between four and 18.

Mr Woodland said: “She rang (her son) Edward from the prison this morning and they were both upset, but he’s fine now. We’ll have a party for him tomorrow when Jean is released.”

He revealed that Kelly goes to Spain two or three times a year.

He said: “She got money from an accident some years ago and takes cheap flights out of Shannon to Spain. She had Edward and (another son) Eric with her on the most recent holiday.”

Kelly was just back from that sun trip when gardaí called and informed her there was a warrant to bring her to Limerick prison over the outstanding €125 fine.

The court office had issued a committal warrant to the gardaí which they were bound to act on, when records showed she had not paid the fine.

It related to a litter offence in January 2006.

After the gardaí called she told them she would go herself to the prison on Monday, which she did, rather than pay the fine.

The gardaí advised her that if she got a medical certificate owing to her advanced pregnancy, the five-day jail term would be deferred.

But she declined to do this and indicated she wanted to get the five-day stint behind bars over with.

Today the debt will be wiped clean when she walks out the front gate of Limerick prison.

Some of her eight children stayed with relatives this week.

Kelly is due to have her ninth baby in the next month.

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