A serial bag snatcher with 340 previous theft convictions has admitted charges from her latest crime spree across Dublin city centre.
Mother-of-one Catherine Lambert (47) is now “almost institutionalised” and will “inevitably” continue offending if she keeps getting jailed and then released without support for her drug problem, a court heard.
The heroin addict from a “prosperous” family background was too ill to take up a rehab place and was in a hopeless situation and “crying out for help”, her defence said.
Judge Bryan Smyth ordered a pre-sentence probation report to see what could be done but said Lambert would be jailed given her total past record of 464 criminal convictions and large number of victims.
Garda Sergeant Tony Flanagan told Dublin District Court Lambert stole thousands of euro worth of property including cash and mobile phones in bag and purse thefts, and from subsequent fraudulent “tapping” of victim’s bank cards at a variety of shops.
The thefts happened at locations including the Gresham Hotel, several McDonald’s outlets, a cafe on Talbot Street, a Nando’s, a Starbucks, a restaurant on Capel Street and pubs on Suffolk Street, Fownes Street and Talbot Street.
Lambert would use a similar “MO”, stealing bags or rummaging through them for purses when diners and shoppers were distracted or had their backs turned. She was either stopped by staff or identified on CCTV later.
She had been given sentences before and had been in custody on remand on the latest charges since December when she appeared in court.
Her solicitor Yvonne Bambury said Lambert had addictions since the age of 12, when she ran away from home and “ended up in the clutches of people who were not acting in her best interests”.
She developed a heroin addiction but got clean and spent time out of Dublin working as a chef but relapsed.
When she was released from prison, she was sent to a city hotel which was “not a conducive environment to stay off drugs” and she quickly went back to her old ways.
Ms Bambury said her client accepted she had done “terrible things” but the pattern was she would be sentenced, released, given one night in a hotel and then left to fend for herself. There would never be a solution and she would find herself in prison again and again. “Every time she comes out of prison it’s inevitable she’ll fail,” Ms Bambury added.