29 Nov 2021

Leitrim defendant's in-laws are “the greatest offenders I have ever come across” says Judge

A Kinlough resident, who pleaded guilty to going on a stealing spree between 2016 and 2019, has been given a total of a six month jail sentence, suspended for four years, at Sligo District Court. 

Eileen Ward, (34), a mother-of-seven, with an addresses at Oak Grove Kinlough and Dalton Terrace, Ballaghdereen stole various household items in Sligo, Bundoran, Carrick-On-Shannon and County Cavan during that period. 

She also pleaded guilty to a raft of public order offences in the same period and all of these charges were taken into consideration  

The defendant was fined €100 and banned from driving for four years on a charge of no insurance. 

The court was told the defendant was pleading guilty to all the charges and elected for the district as opposed to the circuit court. 

In sentencing the defendant who was in a violent relationship, Judge Kevin Kilrane noted that her in-laws in Ballyshannon were “the greatest offenders I have ever come across”.  

Defence solicitor Gerry McGovern said Judge Kevin Kilrane was very familiar with the defendant who had carried out a lot of petty thievery, with some food, baby clothes and baby products as well. 

Mr McGovern said all he could say was that the defendant had a very difficult life and was in a bad relationship but behind it all “was a nice lady who cares greatly for her kids.” 

She had been married into a large family who were familiar to the court.  

Mr McGovern said the defendant was doing her utmost to get her life back on track and she had been making big changes. 

“I am hoping that the changes she has made will be the start of a new life for her. 

“She has been in my office and has young children who were very well dressed and looking very well. 

“She had to make a choice in her life, and it was not an easy choice, and her choice was to put her kids first.” 

Mr McGovern said a lot of the offences went back to a period between 2016 and 2019. 

He said the judge had given her a chance and told her it could not go on. 

“I think that she went with you 90 per cent and 10 per cent she did not.” 

Mr McGovern said that was under the influence of other parties, her husband’s family. 

“She has moved away from that family, is in another county and had kept in contact with the social workers.”  

Mr McGovern asked the judge not to jail her on these matters as it ”would break her altogether.”  

“She is trying to see her children through the HSE as much as possible”. 

Judge Kilrane asked where her husband was at present. 

Mr McGovern said he was still in the Kinlough area “as far as I know.” 

Judge Kilrane said the defendant had been reoffending by petty theft for the past ten years and more. 

“When I asked her why she could not help me.” 

The judge asked the defendant again why she was stealing every conceivable type of item much of which she did not need. 

The defendant said it was “stupid.” 

The judge replied that it was not stupid but was”criminal.” 

Judge Kilrane asked the defendant if she had been brought up in a culture of stealing, adding: 

‘I don’t mean it as insulting, “ the judge added. 

She replied:  “It was not in my family, it was in the family I married into.” 

Mr McGovern said her In-laws were in court a lot. 

“When I got married, my life changed.”  

She told the court she had seven children from 14 years to 18 months. 

The defendant pleaded with the court not to ban her from driving as she “was not going to drive.” 

She told the court she had been banned from driving for five years in 2016. 

The court was told the defendant had driven while banned in February 2019. 

Judge Kilrane said the defendant had appeared before him in more or less every court since he came to this district. 

She had numerous previous convictions and there were numerous efforts to ‘wean her off.’ 

The defendant had been in Dóchas, Mountjoy Women’s Prison for six months. 

“After that you went back stealing. 

“I don’t know what is in your DNA that propels you to steal.” 

The judge said it was not due to lack of money or need. 

He said that while she continues to steal, she will go to jail. 

On the other hand, she was in a violent relationship. 

Her in-laws in Ballyshannon were “the greatest offenders I have ever come across.” 

He said they were a family of 10 and “every single one of them has served time in prison.” 

The judge said she was “under the cosh of her husband and his family which resulted in a tragic situation where seven children were not with their parents but that may change in due course.” 

But the defendant had moved to another county, and she removed herself from her in-laws. 

She had cut ties and that would appear to be a good start in “her rehabilitation.” 

Judge Kilrane said the terms of the suspended sentence were that she was to live at an address in Ballaghdereen, tell gardai of any change in address and don’t re-offend. 

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