A MOTHER-of-two who was caught shoplifting less than a month after she was fined for a similar offence has been warned she will go to prison if she continues to reoffend.
Valerie McMahon, aged 37, of the Forts, Dooradoyle pleaded guilty to stealing clothing from the Heatons store at the Crescent Shopping Centre on January 18 last.
Insp Luke Conlon told Limerick Court the defendant had removed a security tag from a pair of trousers, worth €25, and was apprehended by security staff as she attempted to leave the store.
Solicitor John Herbert said his client, who has two young children, was attempting to steal the trousers for herself as money is in “very short supply”.
He said it was an act of “rash stupidity” and a source of great embarrassment to her and her family.
“She is in the most unfortunate of circumstances and she made a poor choice on the day,” said Mr Herbert
Judge Eugene O’Kelly (pictured) was told McMahon has 28 previous convictions – the most recent of which was recorded in December.
That related to another theft offence when McMahon was caught stealing food items from a supermarket.
Before imposing sentence in relation to last month’s offence, Judge O’Kelly asked if the defendant had been dealt with too leniently before Christmas saying it appeared the imposition of a fine had been a sign of encouragement rather than a punishment.
“She was treated leniently by the court prior to Christmas and she is back before me within weeks,” he said adding that her poor financial circumstances did not justify her actions.
“There are a lot of other people surviving on a small amount of money and they are not going out on a monthly basis stealing,” he said.
The judge imposed a three month prison sentence, which he suspended for six months.
In doing so warned that McMahon has to realise that her actions will have consequences if she continues to reoffend.
He indicated the suspended prison sentence will be activated if she comes before the court again and is convicted of theft offences.