Tuesday 25 April 2017

Woman has 'record' 556 convictions, court hears

Stock Picture
Stock Picture

Andrew Phelan

A serial offender and public order nuisance has an Irish “record” of 556 prior criminal convictions, a court has been told.

Jennifer Armstrong (41) was handed down the latest addition to her staggering criminal record, her 557th conviction, by a judge today.

She was fined €100 for being drunk and a danger to herself after gardai found her asleep on board a Dublin bus in an incident in the west of the city.

Armstrong, a homeless alcoholic and asthma sufferer did not appear in Blanchardstown District Court, where her case was heard, and Judge David McHugh imposed the fine and conviction in her absence.

Armstrong, of no fixed address, was charged with intoxication in a public place at the Lucan Road on January 7 last.

Garda Micheal McLoughlin told the court he had been unable to contact the accused.

Of the latest offence, Garda McLoughlin said it was reported that Armstrong was asleep on board a bus. When awoken, she was very intoxicated and hit her head as she got up to leave.

She was arrested for her own safety, brought to a garda station and charged.

Garda McLoughlin said the accused’s previous convictions were mostly for public order offences and “similar matters.”

“That is a record,” Judge McHugh said. “The poor lady, she appears to be in some difficulty.”

The garda confirmed to the judge that he was satisfied every effort had been made to get the defendant to come to court but these efforts had failed.

On a previous court appearance, in 2015, Dublin District Court heard Armstrong had amassed more than 540 convictions.

At the time, she was arrested for exposing herself in the street, screaming obscenities at tourists and stealing their drinks.

She shouted abuse of a "sexual nature" at passers-by and also narrowly avoided being hit by cars as she stood in the middle of rush-hour traffic, drinking cans of cider.

She admitted a litany of 40 public order, theft and other offences in the city centre in the space of six weeks that year.

The court heard Armstrong had no place to stay on release from her regular prison sentences.

The 2015 offences happened in some of south Dublin's most popular tourist areas and nightspots.

In one incident at South Great Georges Street , Armstrong was intoxicated, drinking alcohol and exposing herself to passers by.

She shouted obscenities "of an abusive and sexual nature."

When she was not allowed into a pub in Temple Bar, she took glasses from a table, smashed them and verbally abused patrons.

She was drinking cider in Temple Bar Square at 1.40pm when she spat at a garda and screamed obscenities at tourists.

She tried to steal drinks from patrons of a pub at South William Street, then ran away but was so drunk, she collapsed.

At a convenience store on College Green, she spat in the face of a female staff member.

The accused, who has chronic asthma, told Judge Walsh her parents had died while she was in prison.

"When you're on the streets and you have no money, there's nothing you can do," she told the court during her 2015 appearance.

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