A judge has described as nasty and despicable a 20-year-old woman taking advantage of the charity shown to her by an elderly nun.
At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan jailed Leanne Purcell of Seminary Court, Blackpool, Cork, and Ardcullen, Hollyhill, Cork, for four months for the robbery of €40 from the Sister of Mercy nun, Sr Anne O'Grady. Judge Durcan said: "This was a very nasty and despicable crime. It was activity of the vilest nature."
The court heard that Purcell was homeless when she approached Sr O'Grady at the home of the Sisters of Mercy in Ennis to give her the price of the bus home to Cork.
Insp Tom Kennedy told the court that Sr O'Grady said that she would drive Purcell to the bus station and buy her a ticket there.
However, Insp Kennedy said that while in the car, Purcell stole Sr O'Grady's purse, which contained €40.
Purcell was later arrested by gardai and the purse was recovered without the €40.
Solicitor for Purcell, Daragh Hassett, said that his client wasn't in Ennis five minutes and arrived at the Fairways flat complex, which he said was "an oasis of drug-takers, drunks and the homeless".
Mr Hassett said that Purcell went to Sr O'Grady to get the fare home.
He said: "She panicked and took the wallet. She was drunk and on drugs at the time.
"She is very sorry and very remorseful."
Sentencing, Judge Durcan said: "This defendant went to the one place in Ennis where she was going to receive assistance.
"She abused the person who was offering her assistance.
"We had, in the past, in this country a society where we recognised the tremendous contribution in education, health and charity on the part of the Sisters of Mercy.
"We now have a society where people show disrespect and scant regard, and this type of behaviour by this defendant I regard as absolutely vile and appalling behaviour."
Judge Durcan said that Purcell took full advantage of Sr O'Grady's charity and "that is nothing short of appalling".
Commenting on Purcell's late change of plea to guilty, Judge Durcan said: "Sr O'Grady has been put through the unpleasantness of sitting through the court for much of the day and the anticipation of giving evidence when, only at the very last moment, a plea of guilty has been offered."
He said: "In terms of imposed sentence, I am giving minimal regard to the plea of guilt at the very last moment."