A WOMAN who could have served less than one year for a theft if she had pleaded guilty at the district court, opted to go forward to Cork Circuit Criminal Court where she got three years — and now her appeal against the severity of that sentence has been dismissed.
The Court of Criminal Appeal was sitting in Cork for the first time and one of the cases heard was the appeal by Deirdre O’Sullivan of 128 Comeragh Park in The Glen.
Desmond Hayes, barrister, appealed O’Sullivan’s sentence saying that it was in a moment of panic she decided not to plead guilty at Cork District Court.
The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed that it would accept a plea of guilty at Cork District Court and that otherwise the case would go forward to the circuit court.
If she had pleaded guilty in Cork District Court the maximum sentence of one year would have been reduced by some fraction because of the plea of guilty.
However, when she pleaded guilty later at Cork Circuit Criminal Court — having opted to go forward to that court — she was jailed for three years.
The appellant entered a staff room at a restaurant at Princes Street on September 22, 2017.
Mr Hayes submitted that only €500 in cash was stolen, as well as cards and identification documents that were contained in the handbag. It belonged to a member of staff in a restaurant at Princes Street.
Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said that while the financial value was not enormous, “the elephant in the room is 178 previous convictions”.
Mr Hayes BL then said credit had not been given for attempts the woman had made to rehabilitate.
One of the three judges presiding over the case, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said he did not doubt these were the instructions given by the accused but he asked what documentary evidence there was of this assertion.
Mr Hayes said the appellant did not have documentary evidence.
Mr Justice George Birmingham said: “Everyone hopes to turn their life around.
“The best indication of the future is often what has happened in the past.
“And what has happened in the past here is 178 previous convictions.”
O’Sullivan’s appeal was dismissed so she has to serve the three years.