Mum 'stole €1,500 rent from landlord to improve home' for herself and three children
A mum-of-three who stole rent allowance cheques sent to her landlord because she believed her house "wasn't habitable" has been jailed for three months.
Winnie Collins (37) had complained that the property she lived in had no heating or cooker and cashed the cheques because she "felt she was entitled" to the money, a court heard.
She spent the €1,500 on "trying to make her home more habitable" for herself and her children, aged nine, 10 and 12.
Judge David McHugh jailed her after hearing she could not pay compensation for the theft.
He said her actions had been "extremely high-handed".
Collins pleaded guilty to stealing two cheques worth €1,579 sent to her landlord at Palmerstown Woods, Clondalkin, on dates between February 23 and April 4 last year.
Sgt Maria Callaghan told Blanchardstown District Court that Collins was renting through the social welfare rent scheme. The cheques were delivered in the name of her landlord and she took them and cashed them in Crumlin.
She had a previous theft conviction for not paying a taxi fare.
She had experienced difficulties in living in the apartment "in that it wasn't habitable, she had no heat and no cooker", said John O'Doherty, defending.
"She had made complaints and quite wrongly she took the cheques because she felt that was the way she would deal with it," Mr O'Doherty said.
"She thought she was en- titled to the cheques, clearly she wasn't," Mr O'Doherty said.
"She wrongly took the money as a result of the conditions that she was living in. She should have dealt with it through the civil remedies she would have had. She took the easy way."
Mr O'Doherty said she used the money to try to make her home more habitable. She did this "indirectly" but did not actually fix the items.
Judge McHugh said he would adjourn the case to late Nov- ember to allow Collins to pay compensation, but when told she would not have the money he sent her to prison for her "extremely high-handed" actions.