A COUNTY Limerick woman who operated an “illicit travel company” to fly Munster fans to away Heineken Cup matches avoided a prison sentence when she was sentenced at Limerick Circuit Court.
Pamela Hickey, 38, of Ashford, Patrickswell pleaded guilty to two charges of deception and one charge of forgery in relation to chartering the services of airlines for return flights from Shannon to Toulouse in December 2004 and to Gatwick in January 2005.
One of the airlines - Monarch Airlines - is owed over £34,000 (€39,000) by Hickey, while €77,000 is owed to its sister company - First Aviation Limited.
During a sentencing hearing Brian McInerney BL, representing Hickey, said his client did not benefit financially from organising the trips, which included hotel accommodation and airport transfers.
Prior to the trips in December 2004 and January 2005, the defendant organised 13 "successful" trips to other away matches.
Judge Carroll Moran was told the offences happened because Hickey "panicked" when faced with the prospect of "letting down" hundreds of Munster supporters.
The judge said it was a mitigating factor that Hickey did not intend making profit by organising the flights and that it was a "not for profit venture".
However, he said the offences were a "very serious matter" and that the sums of money owed to the airlines involved were "substantial".
The judge said the offences warranted a two year prison sentence.
However, given the circumstances of the case, he suspended the prison sentence for two years on condition Hickey stays out of trouble during that time.
*A full version of this story was published in the print edition of Limerick Leader, dated October 24, 2011