Elderly woman collapses in Waterford court while facing theft charges

The woman accepted having taken the materials, he said, and had brought €20 to court to reimburse the injured party.
Elderly woman collapses in Waterford court while facing theft charges

The case had taken four court dates to be heard, because, as solicitor Paddy Gordon told Judge Brian O'Shea, his client had been "in and out of hospital". File photo: iStock

An 84-year-old widow suffering from dementia collapsed in a west Waterford courtroom while being charged with removing building material from a neighbour's property.

Kathleen Power, of Killerguile, Clonea, had to be helped from Dungarvan District Court, after pleading guilty.

Inspector Stephen Murphy said the defendant had taken "timber and cement blocks", valued at €20, before carrying them "in the direction of her own home" on St Stephen's Day, 2021.

The case had taken four court dates to be heard, because, as solicitor Paddy Gordon told Judge Brian O'Shea, his client had been "in and out of hospital".

On the previous occasion, March 23, a bench warrant had been issued for her arrest.

Inspector Murphy said the defendant had two previous prosecutions. 

On June 9, 2021 she had received the Probation Act, at Dungarvan Court, for damaging a CCTV camera on the same neighbour's property.

Her other prosecution dated to 2011, when she entered a peace bond for a year under Section 6 of the Public Order Act.

Mr Gordon was unable to define why his client, who was accompanied in court by a family member, had targeted her neighbour's property.

He said he was "finding it difficult to get direction", because Ms Power had "medical problems, recollection problems, all kinds of problems".

Mr Gordon said Ms Power "has dementia" and is "not a danger to anyone".

She accepted having taken the materials, he said, and had brought €20 to court to reimburse the injured party.

Judge O'Shea said that while the defendant had "technically committed these offences", she was "not a criminal; she's a patient".

He said she was not deserving of a prosecution and he would apply the Probation Act again.

Mr Gordon said he had written to his client's doctor and handed the judge a medical report.

Judge O'Shea, having read the report, observed that Ms Power's close family are in Britain.

He urged Mr Gordon to forward the report to the Garda superintendent in Dungarvan, to alert him that Ms Power has medical conditions that render her unsuitable for court appearances.

Ms Power collapsed at this point and the court was suspended for several minutes, while gardaí removed and attended to her.

The judge added that the solicitor should also inform the superintendent of "what happened in court today".

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