By Fiachra Gallagher
A homeless Dublin woman who robbed €500 from a man withdrawing cash from an ATM has been jailed for 18 months.
Kelly McAuley (23) was pregnant at the time of the offence.
McAuley, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing the sum of money from William O’Brien on May 1, 2020, on O’Connell Street Lower, Dublin 1.
Garda Tracey O’Reilly told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the injured party was taking money from an Ulster Bank ATM on O’Connell Street around 2:40pm, after finishing work early.
The court heard that Mr O’Brien noticed a woman approaching him, and warned her to “stay back” several times.
Initially, Mr O’Brien believed that the woman – McAuley – was going to ask for money.
The court heard the complainant was very conscious of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and did not want the woman to impinge on his personal space.
Gda O’Reilly agreed with Cooney that when Mr O’Brien’s money was dispensed from the ATM, McAuley grabbed the wad of cash, which amounted to €790.
A tussle ensued between the defendant and Mr O’Brien.
Two passers-by saw the incident, and both managed to wrangle some money from McAuley.
The court heard that Mr O’Brien was “determined” to hold onto McAuley until the gardai arrived, but eventually the defendant was able to flee the scene.
€290, which had been salvaged by the two passers-by, was returned to Mr O’Brien.
Gardai were able to retrieve CCTV footage of the incident, and subsequently arrested and interviewed McAuley.
She has 63 previous convictions.
Gda O’Reilly agreed with Tom Neville BL, defending, that McAuley was homeless at the time of the offence, and that the robbery was not of a violent nature.
Neville outlined to the court his client’s “horrific” background, noting that McAuley’s mother had died from suicide in 2016. McAuley was the first to discover her body.
Since then, she has lived in various foster homes, and has been “essentially homeless” for the past five to six years.
The birth of her child seven months ago has “resonated very strongly” with his client, Neville said, and she has made efforts to change her behaviour.
Handing down sentencing, Judge Martin Nolan acknowledged that McAuley made “no deliberate attempt to harm or injure” the complainant, and that her only interest was “stealing the money”.
He also noted McAuley’s difficult life circumstances.
Judge Nolan sentenced McAuley to three years in prison, with the final 18 months suspended on strict conditions.
The sentence was backdated to February 19, 2021, when McAuley entered custody.