A SERIAL shoplifter who stole groceries and other property worth more than €8,000 was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment.
Maria McNamara, aged 30, who has an address at Nicholas Street pleaded guilty to almost 50 theft offences when she was brought before Limerick Court less than an hour after a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly was told the defendant, who has 80 previous convictions, was arrested after gardai called to her home when she failed to appear in court for a fourth time.
The court heard most of the offences happened at locations across the city on dates between October 20, 2011 and March 19, last.
Ms McNamara, who has two young children, admitted stealing goods from stores in the city including H&M, A Wear, TK Maxx, Medicare, Dunnes Stores, Smyths,Mothercare, Tesco, Supervalu, Name It, Carrig Donn, Spar and Superquinn.
She also admitted stealing from a number of stores in Charleville, North Cork.
The most recent offence happened earlier this month when Ms McNamara stole shoes and clothing worth €850 from TK Maxx at the Parkway Retail Park on the Dublin Road.
The defendant also admitted using a carrier bag which was lined with tin foil at H&M at the Crescent Shopping Centre on September 6, last.
On the same date, Ms McNamara stole 44 items of clothing worth €1431.85 from the store.
When asked Sergeant Donal Cronin told the court that “in general the property was recovered” and he added that he was aware that Ms McNamara has a “serious drug addiction”.
Solicitor John Herbert said his client has lived a “chaotic existence” in the past but that she is now in a stable relationship.
“She has straightened herself out and getting her life in order,” he said.
Mr Herbert added that Ms McNamara “has not faced up to matters in the way she should have” and he said a considerable amount of the goods she stole were grocery items such as cleaning products and baby food. “It was out of desperation,” he said,
Imposing prison sentences totalling 20 months, Judge O’Kelly said he found it difficult to send a young mother to prison but added he had no alternative given the amount of offences that were before the court.
“The Court has a responsibility to those from whom she is persistently stealing,”he said adding that he hopes the defendant will use her time in prison to deal with her addictions problems.
The judge noted that some of the offences had been committed while Ms McNamara was on bail and that she had failed to attend any of the scheduled meeting with the Probation Services.
“She made no effort (to attend) and she continued offending and taking bench warrants,” he commented.
Leave to appeal the severity of the sentence was granted on Ms McNamara’s own bond of €500 plus an independent surety of €900.