Two young, heroin-addicted mothers, both attending court from jail, were each given another 22 months for their part in stealing a tea trolley from a train as well as a large number of other thefts each.
First before Judge John Neilan was Emma Quinn (22 ), mother of a three year old son, with an address at Bower View, Athlone who pleaded guilty to eight separate shoplifted goods offences in November and December as well as the theft from the train.
The value of the goods came to €245 and the proceeds from the tea trolley from the train was given as €370.
“Any idea what they did with it?” the judge asked.
“No, judge,” said Superintendent Aidan Glacken.
“It seems they just walked on to it [the train] when it was stopped at the [Athlone] station.”
“There are a litany of similar offences to sustain a chronic addiction,” said defending solicitor Padraig Quinn.
“She makes no attempt at concealment and is readily detected. She freely admits her involvement, is released and the pattern repeats itself.”
“Is this lady in any way motivated to get off her addiction or will she be an addict for the rest of her life?” asked the judge.
Mr Quinn told him that his client had begun some treatment in prison and this was the only place she had sought help.
“If she returns to using, it would suggest to me that she has made a conscious decision to continue being an addict,” said the judge.
“Is she in any way concerned about the welfare of her child?... Does she want her child to to end up here in 10 or 11 years’ time?” asked the judge.
He sentenced Quinn to 11 months for the trolley theft and a consecutive 11 months for one sample shoplifting charge.
Next up was Lisa McCarthy (23 ), from Cherryfield Avenue, Athlone who pleaded guilty to the trolley theft and a house burglary in Bealnamulla on July 28 where €940 worth of property was taken.
After pointing out his client’s heroin addiction, her solicitor Tony McLynn said there was a “large degree of recidivism on behalf of the defendant”.
Again, Judge Neilan asked whether the defendant had made any efforts to wean herself off the drug, only to be told she had only sought help in Mountjoy.
“Judge Gibbons asked a similar question last year but the waiting list at the Merchants Quay Project was in excess of 12 months to get on a methadone programme,” said Mr McLynn.
“You have no sense of responsibility and seem quite happy going back to criminality and the whole rigmarole goes on again,” said the judge before sentencing McCarthy to 11 months each for the trolley theft and the burglary.
Their convictions prompted the judge to lament a pattern he has noted amongst users in Athlone; that they only seem to seek help for their addiction in prison, and that they rely on the heroin substitute methadone rather than make an active effort to beat their addiction.
“The intention on behalf of the majority of addicts in this town is to maintain a life of criminality,” said the judge.
“It seems to me the majority of users in this town are just moving from heroin to methadone,” he said.
Both defendants claimed they only got help in prison, which prompted Judge Neilan to ask: “So, there are no agencies amongst the HSE or Open Door available in Athlone?”
“Nothing positive will come of this until she decides to engage with the agencies of the