A judge maintained his consistency of opposition against the zero-tolerance policy of local retailers for prosecuting minor shoplifters when he ordered the presence of a third store manager this week (July 23 ) to explain this.
“This is a zero-sum game for the State. It’s ridiculous. This is a non-economic case,” said Judge Seamus Hughes to Westmeath’s DPP, Mr Peter D Jones.
“This is no skin off Margaret Heffernan’s or Ben Dunne’s nose, but you’d have to listen to them complain if their profit margins were down,” he opined.
He was speaking in the case of Peter Joyce (26 ) from Battery Heights, Athlone, who was in court after being apprehended by store security on July 15 for trying to take €17 worth of Budweiser beer from Dunnes Stores in Irishtown.
“Judge, he was sitting on the box [of beer] when the gardaí came along,” explained Inspector Aidan Minnock, before adding that O’Neill had three previous convictions, albeit 10 years old.
“He had taken tablets and was off his head,” said Mr Mark Cooney, defending, by way of explanation for his client’s behaviour.
“I want the manager of Dunnes Stores here to ascertain the reasons why they decided to make a complaint as no economic loss was incurred,” said the judge.
“I want them to meet Mr Joyce to see if they could offer some restorative justice. Maybe he could sweep up for an hour or two?” mused the judge, before adjourning the case until September 3.
Only three weeks earlier, legal representatives of both Penneys and Aldi appeared in court on Judge Hughes’ direction to explain the prosecution of two women who had taken a total of €13 worth of goods from the two stores where the judge estimated bringing such a case would cost the taxpayer in the region of €1,250.