A "SHOPLIFTING addict" has been given a suspended sentence after she fraudulently tried to get a refund for a pair of shoes she had not bought.
Teresa McDonagh (36) directed a child who was with her to leave the shop with a pair of shorts in a bag while she tried to con staff into refunding her for shoes with an old receipt.
Blanchardstown District Court heard McDonagh was an "inveterate thief" with an addiction to shoplifting but was now in counselling.
Judge David McHugh suspended the sentence for two years but said it was her last "break" and she would be jailed if she offended in that time.
McDonagh, a mother-of-two with an address at the time at Stable Hall, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to using a false instrument – a receipt for other items – at Penneys, Blanchardstown Shopping Centre on June 13, 2012.
Sgt Maria O'Callaghan said the accused went to the store with a number of children on the day, took a pair of shoes and went to the customer service desk with an old receipt. She said the item was the same and requested a refund of €38.
She signed the receipt in the name of Ward and a child she was with placed a pair of shorts in one of the bags she had.
McDonagh handed the bag to the child, who was told to leave the store. When stopped, she claimed the child had taken the shorts. The cash was returned.
McDonagh had 55 previous convictions, many of which were for thefts. Her last conviction was in March 2012.
It was clear from a probation report that she had come on "in leaps and bounds" in the past year, her barrister Jennifer Jackson said.
"With the greatest respect, she is an inveterate thief," Judge McHugh said. "I won't say lifelong, but very much near it."
Ms Jackson accepted the defendant's record was "horrendous", but insisted there had been a change in McDonagh's behaviour and she had "turned a corner" since the offence.
The defendant had not stolen anything in a year and a half, she added.
"My compulsion would be to jail this lady for four months, given her previous convictions and long history," Judge McHugh said. Instead, he said he would double this and suspend it for two years.