Cork grandmother pleads guilty to not wearing face mask in shops

Margaret Buttimer pleaded guilty to the offences at a Boots store and an Aldi supermarket in Bandon in May 
Cork grandmother pleads guilty to not wearing face mask in shops

Pictured at Bandon District Court on Monday was Margaret Buttimer from Bandon. Picture: Denis Boyle

A grandmother has pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to wear a mask while in shops, having already received a suspended sentence for a similar offence earlier this year.

Margaret Buttimer, 66, and of the Cottage, St Fintan’s Road, Bandon, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to the offences at a Boots Store and an Aldi supermarket, both in Bandon, within days of each other in May.

Sentencing has been adjourned for a month at the request of Ms Buttimer’s solicitor, who said medical investigations were taking place, the results of which may explain the circumstances of the offences.

Judge James McNulty heard that on May 12 at 10.15am, Ms Buttimer entered the Boots store on South Main Street in Bandon without a mask, as required by public health regulations.

Insp Emmet Daly told Judge McNulty that Ms Buttimer was asked “numerous times” to wear a mask and that staff also offered her one, but she refused.

When gardaí arrived, she was again asked to wear a mask but did not do so.

Insp Daly said that at 3.45pm on May 14, gardaí received a call from the manager of Aldi that a woman was refusing to wear a mask in the store.

She had been asked to leave on numerous occasions but had not done so. When gardaí arrived, Ms Buttimer told them she would not wear a mask as she did not agree with the Covid regulations.

She left the store but then made several attempts to re-enter and was arrested by Gardai at 4pm.

The judge heard she had two previous convictions, for a similar offence under Section 31A(1) of the Health Act 1947, as amended, and for a public order offence. 

Both convictions arose out of the same incident at Dunnes Stores in Clonakilty last February.

When that matter was being dealt with, Ms Buttimer had said she was answerable only to God and had spent a brief period in custody for failing to wear a mask in court. 

On May 24, she had been fined €350 for the public order offence, and was given a three-week suspended sentence on the public health charge.

In Bandon court on Monday, Judge McNulty allowed Ms Buttimer, who was not wearing a mask, to sit at the very rear of the court.

Her solicitor, Plunkett Taaffe, said the charges would not be contested but he said he was seeking an adjournment as he wanted to receive medical reports which he said may explain the circumstances of recent events.

“This is only a recent development,” Mr Taaffe said. 

Earlier, he had said: “There are medical issues that need to be addressed, and appointments and investigations made by medical personnel which may explain [events].” 

Mr Taaffe said Ms Buttimer’s next appointment, with a consultant, was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Judge McNulty said: “There are some concerns about her health.” 

Mr Taaffe replied: “That is the position, judge.” 

Judge McNulty convicted Ms Buttimer on both charges but deferred penalty until July 12 next when the matter will be finalised.

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