A 30-year-old mother of four who used “distraction tactics” at a shop allowing her accomplices to steal more than €3,000 worth of cigarettes has received 12 months in jail with the final five months suspended.
Constanta Fota with an address at 331 Collinswood, Dublin 9, was first brought before Galway District Court last May charged with the theft of cigarettes valued at €3,188.30 from Clybaun Stores, Clybaun Road, Knocknacarra, on September 22, 2009.
After constesting the matter Fota was convicted before being remanded on continuing bail to appear at Dublin Circuit Court for the reactivation of a suspended sentence for theft. When the matter resumed at Galway District Court on Monday it was revealed that a 12 month sentence had been imposed for the previous conviction and that she has already served one month of that sentence.
In May the court had heard that Fota and a number of others had entered the store and used “distraction tactics” to steal cigarettes.
Store employee Naomi Flaherty gave evidence that at 6.15pm a group of people entered and while some pretended to purchase items others gathered at the tills and asked numerous questions about prices with the purpose of confusing the staff and diverting attention. Ms Flaherty became increasingly concerned for other customers, a cash and carry rep, and for staff, and asked the group to leave. The court heard that threats were then issed before the group fled in a waiting car. After getting the registration number Ms Flaherty returned to the store to find that the cigarette press was open.
The court heard that the cigarette press located in the store room had a lock on it which had been broken and that CCTV clearly identified Fota. However defence solicitor Gearoid Geraghty had said that that there was no proof that his client had been involved in the theft.
Inspector Sean Glynn informed the court that Fota had a previous conviction in June 2009 at Dublin Circuit Court for theft for which she received an 18 month sentence suspended for three years. There were also numerous other theft convictions.
In court this week Judge Mary Fahy imposed a 12 month sentence for the theft at Clybaun Stores but suspended the last five months on condition that Fota enter in to her own bond of €1,000 to be of good behaviour and to stay out of Galway city and county.