Saturday 20 January 2018

HSE quizzed as mother says she stole food to feed children

Elaine Keogh

A MOTHER of five who claimed that she was stealing food from supermarkets to feed her children has been given €600 by the Health Service Executive to "tide her over", a district court has heard.

Guna Levcenkova (28) is facing five charges of theft from a number of supermarkets in Dundalk, Co Louth on dates in February, July and August of last year.

Solicitors for the HSE were in Dundalk District Court yesterday after Judge William Hamill invited it to explain why she had been refused assistance, as outlined in a previous sitting.

The judge said concerns had been raised for the five children -- aged between two and eight -- and it was suggested that the accused was only stealing groceries "to feed the children".

Fergus Mullen, appearing on behalf of the Department of Social Protection, said Ms Levcenkova and her children had been given PPS numbers last December but there had been "no application" by her for job seeker's benefit until March 16 last. An application for child benefit was only received yesterday, he added.

These will be processed within a month and the HSE was making other arrangements in the meantime, he told the court.

Mr Mullen said it had been suggested at an earlier sitting that Ms Levcenkova had been "point blank" refused by the department, whereas there had not been any application.

However, the solicitor for Ms Levcenkova, of Ath Leathan, Racecourse Road, Dundalk, was "adamant" that she had made contact with the services. He added the department had admitted to him that his client made an application in December 2009.

Judge Hamill said the court's intervention was to deal with the problem that "the children were not being fed" unless Ms Levcenkova went out "to take food" from somewhere.

A HSE representative told the judge that it had been agreed to make a one-off payment of €600 to her "to tide her over" for a month and that she and the children now have medical cards.

Judge Hamill adjourned the case for one month.

Irish Independent

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