A homeless female burglar who stole from a house in which she was a guest, was given nine months in prison this week (March 3 ) after she walked into the Garda station and informed them there was an outstanding warrant against her.
Inspector Nicholas Farrell and Judge Seamus Hughes took some time to go through the six burglaries - committed between February 14 and March 7 - to which Jessica Gaffey (30 ), previously of Sarsfield and Brawney Squares, Athlone but now of no fixed abode was pleading guilty.
In doing so, it brought to the fore the judge’s difficulty with the ease with which offenders in Athlone could dispose of their stolen items.
“Is this a case where I’ll be hearing about the house in Willow Park where the people on heroin in Athlone with sticky fingers can go? It’s now commonly known that this house is a fence for stolen property,” he pointed out.
He was reassured by the inspector who told him: “I’ve been in discussion with my detective sergeants, and I’m satisfied there are moves afoot to make a number of raids”.
“I understand these things can take time, but there’s no harm in raising it,” said the judge.
Gaffey’s crimes included: a handbag theft from an unnamed pub on February 14; the theft of a prescription pad, and doctor’s stamp from a surgery at Newtown Medical Centre; and the burglary of €300 and a mobile phone from a house on St Patrick’s Terrace, both on February 15; the burglary of a house in Southlands on the afternoon of March 7 where she took a laptop and camera; and later that day, the theft of €57 of clothing from Dunnes Stores.
However, it was a theft of two mobile phones, and a set of keys the night before this from a home in Roslevin where Gaffey was the guest of a 55-year-old lady that brought most of the judge’s ire.
“Aren’t you a lovely type of guest to be invited into somebody’s home? ...you were invited in, and you did the nasty on her,” he said.
It was then revealed Gaffey had been in custody since March 18 after she handed herself into the Garda station and admitted to a further burglary where she stole cash and a Kindle from a house in Killian Lodge.
“And she did that with a view to being sent to prison?” asked the judge, to which the inspector nodded.
However, as she was now attending with addiction counselling at the Merchant’s Quay Project, Gaffey asked for a chance in a letter handed up to the judge.
Despite calling it “a nice letter, [showing] a high degree of intelligence”, and commending her appearance, he would not accede to her request.
“With regard to your volume of convictions [64 previous] I’m sending you off today,” he said, before sentencing Gaffey to a total of 15 months in jail, with the final six months suspended for two years.