A GARRYOWEN woman who pleaded guilty to a plethora of theft, road traffic and public order offences has been told she will have to complete community service in order to avoid going to prison.
Jennifer Fitzgerald, aged 26, of South Claughaun Road appeared before a special sitting of Limerick District Court at the weekend after gardai executed a bench warrant which was issued for her arrest last year.
On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to a total of 38 separate charges relating to offences which occurred on dates in 2011, 2012, 2013.
Judge Marian O’Leary was told that a large number of the offences relating to shoplifting offences which happened at various locations in the city centre.
Sergeant Donal Cronin said items stolen by the defendant included everything from groceries, clothing and beauty products to electrical items such as a hair-straightener and hair-dryer.
The value of the property ranged from as little as €10 to several hundred euro.
Sgt Cronin said the “vast majority” of the stolen property was subsequently recovered and that Ms Fitzgerald had made admissions in relation to the offences.
The court was told the defendant, who has more than 100 previous convictions, was stopped while driving without insurance and a drivers licence on several occasions on dates in 2012 despite having received a ten year driving ban in 2011.
Solicitor Ted McCarthy said his client, who has two young children, has been coming before the court for the past years.
He said Ms Fitzgerald has had addictions in the past to Xanax tablets but that she is now “healthier than I have ever seen her”.
He told the court that his client had spent “whatever she had on Xanax” and that she was stealing groceries and other household items out of necessity.
Explaining why his client failed to appear in court in 2013, Mr McCarthy said she moved to Halifax in England two years ago and that she returned to Limerick last week to “finalise matters”.
He added that following her arrest at the weekend, an outstanding six month prison sentence was activated and that she has been in custody since.
He said while in England, Ms Fitzgerald completed a college course in beauty and therapy and that she intends returning the UK when she is released from prison.
Noting that the defendant appears to have “turned her life around”, Judge O’Leary requested that a probation report be prepared before sentence is imposed indicating that she is considering a penalty of 240 hours of community service in lieu of a five month prison sentence.