Thursday 8 December 2016

Court refuses to return passport to woman to allow her to go on a foreign holiday

Sonya McLean

Published 09/03/2016 | 16:49

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

A court has refused to return a passport to a Clare woman, whose partner is involved in organised crime in Limerick, to allow her to go on a foreign holiday.

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Heather McNamara (33) of Gordon Drive, Ennis is facing a charge of being in possession of over €68,000, believed to be the proceeds of crime. She denies the charge.

Ann-Marie Lawlor BL, defending, told Judge Melanie Greally at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that her client was making an application to have her passport returned so she could go on a family holiday abroad with her two children, her mother and her disabled brother. She currently had to sign on three times a week in Ennis Garda Station.

Garda Rebecca Daly told Garrett Baker BL, prosecuting that she had a number of objections to the return of Ms McNamara's passport including the seriousness of the charge and the fact that her partner was a convicted criminal.

She said the man was heavily involved in organised crime in Limerick and would have known criminal associates both nationally and internationally.

Gda Daly agreed with Ms Lawlor that she was not aware that her client had a successful personal injury claim which was funding the holiday.

She accepted that although Ms McNamara had nine previous convictions they were for minor documentary road traffic convictions.

Gda Daly further accepted that her fear was that Ms McNamara was a flight risk because of her partner's associates abroad.

Ms McNamara told the court that she intended to plead not guilty to the allegations, that she had complied with all bail conditions and that she had never been in custody.

She said she understood that the garda had a job to do but she said it was “ridiculous” to suggest she wouldn't come back to Ireland after her holiday.

“I have no reason to be running away. I have two kids, their school is here,” Ms McNamara said before she added that she helped her mother in caring for her disabled brother and with caring for her grandmother.

She said she would comply with any conditions the court wanted to impose. Mr Baker asked Ms McNamara why she couldn't holiday in Ireland rather than abroad.

She agreed that it “wouldn't be the end of the world” to holiday in this country but said her mother liked to go on a foreign holiday every year and she needed to go with her to help with her brother.

Ms Lawlor told Judge Greally that her client's liberty was being curtailed when she was still innocent before the court.

“She has family obligations here. She is not going anywhere,” Ms Lawlor said before she added that it was “an extraordinary leap in speculation” to assume that because Ms McNamara's partner had previous convictions that she then was a flight risk.

Judge Greally said the allegation faced by Ms McNamara presumed she had access to very significant amount of cash, “which in terms of being a flight risk, heightens the risk”.

She said it seemed to be a preference held by her mother to holiday abroad rather than by herself before she added that she previously had no issues with the conditions of her bail.

She said she saw “no reason whatsoever” to allow for the return of Ms McNamara's passport but allowed for her signing on conditions to be reduced to twice weekly.

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