Limerick handbag snatcher avoids prison term on appeal

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

A LIMERICK woman sentenced to a total of 20 months in prison for two robberies - including an “appalling” handbag snatch from a pensioner - has had the jail terms suspended on appeal to the Circuit Court.

A LIMERICK woman sentenced to a total of 20 months in prison for two robberies - including an “appalling” handbag snatch from a pensioner - has had the jail terms suspended on appeal to the Circuit Court.

Barrister Eimear Carey said that 24-year-old Tracey O’Shea, of Holiday Cottages, Ballyneety, had abided by a previous court undertaking to Judge Carroll Moran to stay off drugs and had done “all that has been asked of her” by the Probation and Welfare Service.

O’Shea was jailed for 10 months at Limerick District Court in January for robbing a 78-year-old woman outside Garryowen post office.

Judge Eamon O’Brien had described the accused woman’s attack on Mary McMahon on April 15, 2010, as “appalling” and one of the worst of its type he had seen.

The offence happened a short time after the elderly woman had withdrawn the €300 from an account at Garryowen post office.

Limerick District Court was told that O’Shea approached the 78-year-old, distracted her by asking for directions to another location and grabbed her handbag. The pensioner resisted and was dragged along the footpath for several yards before O’Shea, a mother-of-three, made good her escape.

Judge O’Brien sentenced the accused to 10 months in prison for the robbery.

A consecutive 10-month sentence was imposed on O’Shea for attempting to rob another handbag from a student, Laura Lynam, at the University of Limerick on April 16, 2011.

At a previous appeal hearing in the Circuit Court in May, O’Shea had given an undertaking to stay off drugs. Ms Carey said on that date that at the time of the Garryowen offence, O’Shea had been addicted to Xanax. While Judge Moran also condemned O’Shea’s actions as “appalling”, he adjourned sentencing to this week to afford her the opportunity to co-operate with the Probation and Welfare Service.

This Tuesday, Ms Carey said her client had done “all that has been asked of her”. She had undergone addiction treatment at Bushy Park, was attending AA meetings; was drug and alcohol free and was “making great progress”. She had not been in any trouble with the gardai since.

Judge Moran said he would affirm the 10-month sentences imposed by the District Court but was prepared to suspend each on condition that she remain of good behaviour for two years.

O’Shea entered two bonds of €100 in respect of each offence and undertook to obey all directions of the Probation and Welfare Service.