independent

Saturday 23 August 2014

Mum thanks public for not allowing her family to starve

Anne Campbell

Published 28/08/2013 | 05:20

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Guna Levcenkova, who was given the benefit of the probation act.

A LATVIAN mum who admitted stealing groceries to feed her family has thanked the people of Dundalk who helped ensure that she and her five daughters didn't starve after they read about her plight in the press.

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A LATVIAN mum who admitted stealing groceries to feed her family has thanked the people of Dundalk who helped ensure that she and her five daughters didn't starve after they read about her plight in the press.

Guna Levcenkova (30), had admitted 11 counts of theft from shops in Dundalk and Drogheda between August 2010 and January 2012 and the case made national newspaper headlines after Judge William Hamill heard how Ms Levcenkova, who has an address at Beechmount Drive, had been denied social welfare and this had led her 'in desperation' to steal.

The first listing of the case, in March 2011, started a process that both Judge Hamill and solicitor Sean T O'Reilly refused give up on and saw solicitors for the HSE and social welfare being ordered to come to court to explain to the judge why this family had been left without support.

It was revealed at an earlier court hearing that Ms Levcenkova had come to Ireland in 2009 and had worked on a farm in County Louth which had paid her in vegetables.

As details of the family's life became public, Mr O'Reilly revealed that Dundalk people started contacting him offering his client, who has five daughters aged four to 11, assistance with food and clothing. But the root cause of the poverty - the denial of social welfare - took longer to tackle.

Following a number of appeals to social welfare, Ms Levcenkova was granted children's allowance. This was the start of her getting back on her feet and shut off the need for her to steal to feed her family.

Judge Hamill had imposed 40 hours community service earlier this year and last week, Mr O'Reilly told the judge he was happy to report that as a result of that, Ms Levcenkova had been offered a place on a Community Employment scheme. She is now in receipt of social welfare payments and is making a contribution to society, Mr O'Reilly said.

On Thursday, Judge Hamill said he was glad that 'something good' had come out of the process.

He said that 'in all the cirumstances and with everything taken into account' he would dismiss the case under the probation act.

He added: 'I'm glad it worked out for the children at least'.

The Argus

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