A MOTHER of three jailed for her part in an attempted armed robbery almost 20 years ago lived a fugitive existence in Co Kerry for years, unknown to her neighbours.
Neighbours of Naomi Mothersoul (54) in Tralee, Co Kerry, were shocked to learn last night that the woman who had lived near them for about eights years had been jailed for 18 months for her crime.
Ms Mothersoul had kept her past a secret at the house in an estate off the Killeen Road where she shared a council house with her two daughters and a son.
Neighbours say the family moved in about eight years ago but are thought to have been living in the area for at least five years before that.
Mothersoul and her then partner Colin Ashman (43) evaded justice for almost 20 years by fleeing to Ireland.
She was extradited back to the UK in August on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.
The couple was captured by police after a "frightening" knife incident at a petrol station in Easton-in-Gordano, Somerset, in 1994, but fled to Ireland while out on bail.
They set up home in Tralee while warrants for their arrests were left outstanding for almost 20 years.
Meanwhile, she managed to secure local authority housing for herself and her family before finally being brought to justice.
She was known to her neighbours by her real name, though no one admitted to knowing her well. "They kept very much to themselves and didn't even say 'hello' to people," one neighbour said.
"You'd rarely catch a glimpse of her and you'd never see anyone calling to the house."
Neighbours also recalled gardai calling to the house "a few times" but said they hadn't set eyes on her for several months.
She was known to volunteer occasionally in a charity bookshop in the town centre where one of her daughters worked.
They also said she had become very frail and had started to use a walking stick.
The pair were finally brought to justice this year. Mothersoul was given a one and a half year sentence at Bristol Crown Court yesterday. She pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, but not guilty to armed robbery.
Ashman received a five-year jail term in September for his "dominant role" in the crime.
Representing Mothersoul, Catherine Spedding said her client fled to Ireland as she had a three-year-old daughter in 1994 she did not want to lose.
"The knock on the door came inevitably. She was told she would be brought back to England. She says in many ways it was a relief," she said.
The court heard she intends to return to Tralee when her sentence is served.