A century of offences for Athlone’s most famous thief

A local woman whose thieving sprees around Temple Bar in Dublin saw her feature in the Sunday World earlier this year, racked up her 100th conviction in total this week (November 17 ) in Athlone District Court.

Appearing from custody to plead guilty to charges 100, 101, and 102 was Maitland O’Neill (23 ), with an address in Meadowbrook, Willow Park.

O’Neill was pleading guilty to three charges of shoplifting from River Island (twice ) and Zara in Athlone Towncentre on November 15 where she attempted to take €194 worth of goods which were all recovered, according to Superintendent Aidan Glacken.

“She must like that place,” opined Judge Eamon O’Brien, as the defendant gazed around the room disinterestedly.

“She has 99 previous convictions, 68 [of which were] for theft,” said Supt Glacken.

O’Neill’s prison escort told the court the defendant had a projected release date of January 25, 2011, whilst her solicitor, Mr Mark Cooney, explained how O’Neill had “a serious drug problem but had weaned herself off heroin totally”.

“In the long term, this may be of benefit to society...This theft was more for the paying of a debt than funding a habit,” he said.

Judge O’Brien accepted this and though he sentenced her to six months in prison, he suspended it for two years on account of her guilty plea. O’Neill was ordered to sign a €500 good behaviour bond and to continue attending rehab.

Her mother Elizabeth was also before the court, on an unrelated assault charge, and was remanded on continuing bail until February 2.

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