Woman jailed for stealing handbag from student in wheelchair

Woman jailed for stealing handbag from student in wheelchair

Picture: iStock

A student on her way to UCC in her wheelchair had her handbag snatched from her lap by a woman who then ran away with it.

Judge Olann Kelleher said, “I have to take account of the fact that this was a terrible crime committed on someone so vulnerable. I am sure it caused enormous distress.” 

The judge jailed Mary Hennessy, 32, with and address Shanaway House, Western Road, Cork, for six months. He refused an application by defence solicitor, Diane Hallahan, to suspend the sentence saying that the crime was too serious.

Sergeant John Kelleher said the crime was committed on February 5 when the student was making her way to college.

Mary Hennessy approached her and asked her for some money and the student refused. A short time later as she approached the main college gates on Western Road she felt a hand reaching over her shoulder from behind and grabbing the handbag which was located on her lap.

“She looked around and saw the woman running in the direction of the city. CCTV was later examined and Mary Hennessy was identified.

“When approached she made full admissions and returned all of the property to the gardaí and this was returned to her in UCC,” Sgt. Kelleher said.

The accused had 39 previous convictions including seven counts of theft.

She also had two suspended sentences hanging over her, the most significant of which was a six-month term imposed last October but suspended on condition that she would keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years.

Judge Kelleher said he would not activate those suspended terms but he imposed a fresh sentence of six months imprisonment for stealing the handbag.

Ms Hallahan said of the accused, “When she first appeared on this matter she indicated she was pleading guilty. She is devastated, ashamed and very sorry. She is aware of the seriousness of the crime and the effect on the victim. This lady had a heroin addiction which spiralled out of control for a period of time.” 

The defence solicitor pleaded with the judge not to impose a prison sentence so that she could take up a residential treatment programme to deal with her issues.

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