An 18-month sentence has been handed down to a woman who, along with an accomplice, viciously assaulted and harassed two schoolgirls, knocking them to the ground and kicking them in the stomach and face.
After imposing the sentence on 22-year-old Josephine Mongan at Galway District Court on Monday, Judge Aeneas McCarthy was shocked to discover that the co-accused, 21-year-old Joanna Crawford, brazenly issued threats referring to the two injured parties, shouting: “Sort the two little whores out”, when she was remanded into further custody and led away to await a further court sitting next week to determine the possible reactivation of a previous suspended sentence.
The outburst came despite Crawford, of 47 Corrach Bui, Rahoon, earlier indicating her remorse for her involvement in the incident and entering a plea of guilty to robbery, threatening and abusive behaviour, and to being intoxicated in a public place. The court also heard how Mongan, with an address at 24 Gaelcarrig Park, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and with being intoxicated in a public place at Old Monivea Road.
Garda Denise Kellegher told the court that on April 12 last two young girls, aged 13 and 14 and dressed in school uniforms, had been walking along the Old Monivea Road when they were approached by the two defendants who were in an extremely intoxicated state. The defendants then proceeded to subject the two children to abuse and harassment, starting first with a demand for cigarettes. When the children said they didn’t have any cigarettes Mongan pulled one of them to the ground and snatched her mobile phone when it fell out of a pocket. The two women became increasingly aggressive, continuing to make demands for cigarettes and money.
Garda Kellegher added that Mongan then turned her attention to the second, younger schoolgirl also knocking her to the ground. The court heard that both schoolgirls were viciously kicked in the stomach and the face during the terrifying ordeal and that a schoolbag was emptied of its contents by the defendants who were looking for mobile phones. When they didn’t find any, Mongan produced a broken bottle and threatened the two girls with it. However, the teenagers managed to flee to the home of one of their brothers. He brought them in his car to the area and when the attackers were identified the matter was reported to the gardai.
Defence solicitor for Mongan, Sarah O’Dowd, told the court that when her client and the co-accused were arrested they were “extremely intoxicated” after consuming a cocktail of alcohol and drugs. She added that a doctor who attended the garda station where the two defendants were being detained examined them and ruled that their level of intoxication was such that they could not be interviewed for several hours.
The court heard that Mongan has 18 previous convictions which include numerous prison sentences for theft offences, while Crawford has 17 previous convictions including a six-month suspended sentence imposed in September 2010 for two counts of assault.
Ms O’Dowd then told the court that Mongan very much regrets her involvement in the incident, of which she has no recollection. She said that Mongan has had a difficult background and that the death of a brother, when she was just 14, “hit her hard” and instead of receiving the counselling she needed Mongan turned to alcohol and other substances. Ms O’Dowd added that her client has since tried to address her addiction problems but suffered a major relapse last year following the death of another family member in tragic circumstances. She further explained that Mongan had only been out of custody a few weeks when the anniversary came around and she went on an “absolute binge” before this latest incident occurred.
Crawford’s solicitor Alma Whelan said that her client was very apologetic about her involvement, adding that she had been the “lesser aggressor”. Ms Whelan said that both defendants had been very intoxicated and that Crawford, a mother of three children, has a “severe” addiction to alcohol.
In sentencing, Judge McCarthy noted that the case was very serious and that it had been “extremely traumatic for those two girls”. He then took into account Mongan’s guilty plea and imposed a total of 18 months in prison. As Crawford has a previous conviction for which she received a suspended sentence Judge McCarthy remanded her in custody to appear before Judge Mary Fahy at Galway District Court on June 8 next for possible reactivation of the sentence.
However, as Crawford was being led away to the custody area by prison guards, there was a violent outburst necessitating a number of gardai to intervene. Inspector Ernie White later informed Judge McCarthy that as Crawford was being led down she said: “Sort the two little whores out”, adding that this was “obviously” in reference to the two injured parties. Upon hearing this, Judge McCarthy noted the incident on the charge sheet file.