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Celibate woman who wanted a free dinner cleared of prostitution

A "CELIBATE" woman accused of prostitution has been found not guilty after a court heard she was only trying to talk the alleged client into buying her dinner.

Lee O'Hanlon (42), who was arrested after getting into a stranger's car in a red light district, insisted she "slept alone every night" and was trying to "blag a meal from a little old man" when gardai stopped them.

O'Hanlon, who is originally from Britain, told Dublin District Court she had never worked as a prostitute and had no idea that Arbour Hill was a red light area.

The accused, with an address at Judge Darley's Hotel, Benburb Street, pleaded not guilty to a charge of soliciting for the purposes of prostitution at Montpelier Hill on May 15 last.

Garda Alan Cassidy told the court he was on duty as a passenger in an unmarked car at 10.20pm at Hendrick Street, a "known red light district".

He saw the accused walking and the gardai drove to Blackhall Place and then to Arbour Hill, where a Kildare-registered car parked behind them.

They watched as O'Hanlon approached the other car, had a brief conversation with the driver and got into the front passenger seat. The car pulled out and the gardai stopped it at Montpelier Hill.

When he questioned the accused, she said she did not know the driver's name.

"She said she didn't know that Arbour Hill was a red light district and she said she was celibate and not a prostitute," Garda Cassidy said.

The accused told the court she had just left an internet cafe where she was "talking to her children on Facebook" when she noticed the gardai patrolling the area. She was aware there was a warrant out for her arrest and did not want to be taken in that night.

A car pulled in and the driver asked her: "Is your name Ellie?" She said no but accepted a lift when he asked her. She asked him to drop her down the road when she saw the garda's car behind them.

The garda told her he had "caught her in the act", and she denied this.

The judge dismissed the charge but gave her a six-month suspended sentence and fined her €535 after she admitted stealing five steaks from Marks & Spencer on Mary Street and failing to appear in court.

aphelan@herald.ie


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